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stretched thin and searching for solutions. Moving oil to market, finding workers and creating enough permanent housing are all critical areas of need.

The existing road system continues to experience heavy use as well; more oil from the ground means more tanker trucks on the road. Although pipeline expansion is at the forefront of many discussions, and some plans to grow the network exist already, creating an environment where it can occur as rapidly and efficiently as possible needs to be a top priority for the state.

Typically, safety concerns in oil country focus largely on workers directly involved with drilling activities, which

is certainly appropriate. At the same time, consideration should also extend to the general public and particularly to those who reside in and around peak areas of exploration and production.

One way to ease road congestion is pipeline expansion. Increasing capacity serves two important purposes, the first from a public safety standpoint where moving oil via pipelines takes trucks off of the road. That in turn means added safety for children being transported to and from school, sporting events or other activities.

The second benefit is a reduction in overall operating costs because oil is being moved to market in a more efficient manner. That in effect could

become the requested tax break energy companies seek by reducing discounts they currently experience due to high transportation costs. The two net positives include a more profitable environment when oil prices dip and less pressure on existing roadways.

Finding qualified workers is another challenge likely aggravated by the state’s notorious reputation for bitterly cold winters. And, there is simply no arguing that being a roughneck is tough, dangerous and demanding work. Add in long days along with the uncertainty of where to live, and recruitment efforts are understandably tested.

Eventually though, workers are finding

their way into North Dakota to take advantage of the opportunities at hand. Many were previously unemployed, and a job here means a fresh start in a world where options are still limited.

Concerns surrounding well inspections also continue to grow as more rigs come online. The math is simple; increased drilling activity means more feet are needed on the ground to monitor the process. The State Department of Mineral Resources acknowledges that more trained inspectors will be required moving forward to keep up with the red hot industry and has requested additional funding to accomplish that task.

The question around additional

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