American Oil Boom – by Chris Rusanowsky

oil boom

Oil worker takes a smoke break during a shift in -44 degree weather.

Photographer Chris Rusanowsky is working on a project about fracking and the lifestyle it brings in the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota.

The North Dakota oil boom is an ongoing period of rapidly expanding oil extraction from the Bakken Formation that has been continuing since 2009. Despite the global financial crisis in 2008 through 2012, the oil boom has provided enough jobs to make North Dakota the lowest unemployment state in the United States.

With no warning small farm towns were flooded with people looking for work, which left housing development in a crisis. Workers were forced to sleep in their vehicles, tents or in some cases “man camps” provided by so fracking companies for a price of $1000 or more a month. The rise of population has taken a toll on the small towns and the invisible line between locals and oil workers can be felt in the social scenes. Crime has risen and crystal meth has flooded the streets, assault, sexual assault and alcohol plays a major role in the day to day life in the oil boom. It’s not out of the norm to carry personal protection with you while driving trucks or going into town.

As this project continues I will be documenting the lives of the locals that have watched their small communities change over time as well as the lives of the workers that left their families to find financial opportunity.

See more photos of the project on Chris’s website.

oil boom

Pumping units burn natural gas daily, while pumping crude oil into storage bins.

oil boom

Covered in dirt, frac sand and crude oil, A roustabout displays his hands after a fourteen hour shift.

oil boom

Kino, from the islands of Hawai’i came out to North Dakota in search of opportunity to provide for his family. He stands on top of a 5 story grain elevator.

oil boom

A portrait of natural gas burning from a well.

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