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Oil Workers Call 'Man Camps' Home

September 20, 2012, 6:30 PM by Kelly Bartnick

Oil Workers Call 'Man Camps' Home
WILLISTON, ND -

Before you find a job up in the oil basin, you’ll want you to find housing first. And what’s becoming the norm is temporary housing that holds thousands of workers.

KELOLAND News was invited to the area with Hegg Companies representatives as they prepare for the upcoming Bakken Conference in Sioux Falls. And our first top on the day-long trip was a temporary community. You might have heard it referred to by what the locals call it ‘a man camp.’

If these ‘man camps’ are like a dorm room, then Terry Legions is a real-life R.A.

Bearpaw lodge is one of so many temporary community facilities dotting the Bakken oil basin.

“They all want to stay here. We had people that stayed here and went to other man camps. We've seen them in town and they say they want to come back,” Legions said.

But Bearpaw is full, all 1,200 rooms.

The rooms rent for anywhere from $120 to $160 per night. Oil companies rent them out to house workers. Legions' company, Target Logistics has nearly 4,500 beds available here and they are just one company.

“That's shared by both rooms. It's usually easy to tell if someone's there, usually you can hear it,” Legions said.

It's a glimpse into just how short the housing supply is.

The price is all inclusive, recreation, laundry and food prepared fresh by chefs. There's even a state-of-the art work-out room and wireless Internet.

More than 80 percent of the rooms here are filled with men. Some of them have lived here for a year or more. Settling for any home, even if it's small, with some comforts in a place where a busing population doesn't always make life comfortable.

“A lot of people here have been here so long, it's like a family,” Legions said.

There is permanent housing available too, more and more, actually. But among all the temporary communities are ordinary people who have lived in the area their whole lives and now have to adjust to a bigger and sometimes grittier town.

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