Stanley North Dakota is Newest Oil Mecca and Boom Town (Photos)

bakken formation in the williston basin

Stanley, North Dakota is a town that sits on an area that geologists say could hold 4 billion barrels of oil. The area is called the Bakken Formation, a vast region below North Dakota, Montana and a portion of Canada.

A regional geologist, Kevin Frederick said: "the continual amount of oil in North Dakota is three times as much as Texas. We're doing as much as we can to try and get it out." Stanley Mayor Hynek indicates the region is so flush with oil that it is nearly impossible to drill a well and come up dry.

The oil boom has brought people flocking to the area seeking a piece of the action. They are seeing 20-year-olds bring in $70,000 working the oil field. A water hauler, Gary Dazell is earning $100,000 a year bringing water to the oil field.

One of the Stanley's fortunate citizens is Herb Geving, who has struck it rich with three oil wells. He acknowledges that people have always known there was oil under their land but technology made it difficult to harvest. Foreign oil used to be cheaper than the potential cost of drilling in North Dakota. That was then and this is now. Technology has improved and the soaring cost of oil has brought new focus to the region.

Real estate in Stanley has skyrocketed. The average home was $30,000 before boom. The same homes are now going for $100,000. The town's population has gone from 1,250 people to 1,600 in the past seven months, causing a temporary housing shortage as more people show up to find work. A local RV trailer park is also busting at the seams.

Herb has been working his ranch for over 40 years and now smiles broadly when he hits his mailbox once each month to find a whopping check. The rancher acknowledges that the area was suffering like the rest of the country under a bad economy. It gives him great pleasure to see that things are turning in a positive direction.

Geving is pleased to be able to plan for the future of family members with his newfound wealth. He drafted a will recently and will be able to leave 70 family members with a sizable nest egg each.

CNN has dubbed Herb Geving 'North Dakota's real life Jed Clampett' - a reference to the 60's hit show The Beverly Hillbillies.

The process of working on an oil rig is not without peril. OSHA recently investigated the death of a 21 year-old Montana man who was working on a site 11 miles south of Stanley in mid May. According to sheriff Ken Halvorson, the worker fell after removing a clamp bolt, leading to excessive gas pressure that blew apart some of the equipment. He was pronounced dead at the scene. The death of Nathaniel Zinn marked the 11th death of a worker in North Dakota's oil patch in the past 10 years.

Check out more photos below.

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