Oil Boom Causes Housing Shortage in Northeast Montana

By Beacon Staff

MILES CITY – Contractors in northeastern Montana are building 72 mobile housing units in Miles City to alleviate what officials say is a serious housing shortage for oil field workers based in Bainville.

“We’re out of room,” said Garth Harmon of Blaze Enterprises, a Bainville native who is developing the camp. “We’ve got people already every place we can shove them.”

Rob Shores of Signal Butte Builders said crews are building the housing units as quickly as possible.

“Actually, they want them down there last week, because they’ve got guys sleeping in pickups,” he told the Miles City Star.

A boom in oil activity in the Williston Basin has brought in workers while also creating a shortage in housing and other services.

Harmon said the work camp project has three phases that could eventually have three camps and house more than 1,200 workers. He said the camps will be fenced with gates and protected by a card entry system. He said alcohol won’t be allowed in the camps.

“They pretty much just work and sleep up there,” Harmon said. “If they’re not working or sleeping, they’re getting into trouble. I don’t want a bunch of people wrecking my camp.”

The area has had oil booms in the past, but Harmon said this one is having more of an impact.

“This boom is much bigger,” he said. “Even the amount of wells that have to be serviced after the drilling is staggering. They drilled more wells last year than they drilled in the entire previous boom.”

Besides the work camp housing, Harmon said he’s also working to develop 40 permanent homes for management workers who would remain in the area after the drilling phase is finished.