AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:
The U.S. oil industry is coming out of a slump that's gone on for two years. Today, there are more than twice as many rigs drilling for oil compared to a year ago. One big factor is OPEC, the cartel of oil exporting states. Last year, OPEC cut oil production to prop up the market. Tomorrow, it decides whether to keep that cut going. Amy Sisk of Prairie Public Broadcasting reports on the impact all of this is having in oil rich North Dakota.
AMY SISK, BYLINE: It's busy again at this gas station in Williston, the hub of the Bakken oil patch.
ANGELA NEUMAN: What's up buddy?
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: Not much. Pump one and two, please.
SISK: Manager Angela Neuman says, lately, cigarettes and chewing tobacco are flying off the shelves.
NEUMAN: But now there's so many new people, I cannot get a handle on that. It's been a little rough (laughter).
SISK: It wasn't like this a year ago. The price of oil was low, and that made drilling less profitable. Across town at the Winterton Suites hotel, sometimes there were only one or two guests. The price dropped to a bargain - $100 a night.
CHELSEY CROZIER: We almost actually thought we were going to lose it for a little bit.
SISK: Hotel manager Chelsey Crozier says occupancy ticked back up this spring.
CROZIER: Of course, not as crazy as it was, but it's doing better.
SISK: It was crazy busy a few years back when the price of oil was sky high. A room here cost $300 a night. No Vacancy signs were lit up across the oil patch. But that boom led to so much oil production that the market got flooded, and the price of oil tanked. That's when OPEC's stepped in to boost prices by cutting production. Russia followed suit. Eugene Graner is with Heartland Investor Capital Management in Bismarck.
EUGENE GRANER: Effectively, these cuts that were put into place last fall are being filled in by other countries for oil.
SISK: Countries like the United States. America ramped up production to 9.3 million barrels of oil per day, close to the level before prices plummeted. When OPEC's meets tomorrow, it's expected to keep its cuts in place. Graner says that would help ensure this mini boom in America keeps going.
President Trump has promised to unleash the energy industry by lifting all kinds of regulations. His full rollback hasn't happened yet, but energy analyst Trisha Curtis with PetroNerds says his move to approve the Dakota Access Pipeline is helpful.
TRISHA CURTIS: That gives sort of a green light. If you were a little hesitant on the Bakken on activity or development, that certainly is a game changer there.
SISK: The pipeline is slated to come online next week. It will make transporting Bakken oil cheaper and allow it to reach the Gulf Coast. In North Dakota, jobs to produce that oil abound.
CINDY SANFORD: When you're ready to apply let me know and we can do it together...
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: Well, let's do that. Well, see, I talked to the HR guy this morning.
SISK: Customer service reps with Job Service North Dakota in Williston are busy helping people find that work. Cindy Sanford oversees this regional office.
SANFORD: Over 150 jobs we posted this week.
SISK: More jobs than workers, and the openings keep coming. For NPR News, I'm Amy Sisk in Bismarck.
(SOUNDBITE OF BOOKER T & THE M.G.'S SONG, "BEHAVE YOURSELF")
CORNISH: That story comes to us from Inside Energy, a public media collaboration focused on America's energy issues.
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