Black gold is changing in North Dakota. In just a few years, one of the country’s least populated states has become its most valuable oil producer after Texas.
Thousands of Americans have invaded the Bakken region, hundreds of wells have been drilled, dozens of new roads have damaged the plains. And that’s not counting toxic spills.
To accurately measure the scale of this oil exploitation, take the road that joins Williston to New Town. And you have to take it at night. The asphalt is new, the road is narrow and winding. There is no lamppost. The eye gets used to the darkness. Then, we notice orange or yellow dots.
But beware, they are not bulbs that illuminate the plain; they are flames. It is natural gas that is burned. Huge amounts of gas. Every day, we burn just to heat 4,000 Canadian homes for a full year. That’s the daily waste of North Dakota. See what it looks like at night:
These flames are ubiquitous. It is the most important symbol of the oil boom, made possible by new fractionation techniques. Dozens of yellow and orange dots illuminate a vast, almost uninhabited space. Views of space, the vast plains of North Dakota form a spot of light as large as Montreal