Dunn County Lodge fills worker niche in southern Bakken

MANNING, N.D. — A newly opened man camp stakes out the southern Bakken shale territory for a temporary housing provider. The company held a party Thursday evening to celebrate.

The Target Logistics camp is south of Manning and just north of Dickinson, the largest such facility in that reach of the Bakken. It’s adding on at the same time it’s filling up.

The company invited state and local officials and planned to serve appetizers like crab-stuffed mushrooms and a tenderloin dinner to 100 guests and to the workers who come in after a long day in the oil patch.

The Dunn County Lodge has 400 beds and more are still being trucked into the busy site to be connected like giant LEGOS to the existing modules.

It is the company’s eighth project in just two years in the oil patch. And between man camp-style housing in the Bakken and down in Texas, it’s now the largest company of its kind in the country, said Scott Junk, a marketing vice president.

The project originally was intended for a site on the northwest side of Dickinson, but residents protested the location as being too near city limits.

Target now has 3,700 beds for workers in facilities at Stanley, Tioga and Williston as well as Dunn County, which is permitted for up to 600 beds.

Junk said the facilities are at 95 percent occupancy and the rooms are rented on contract to companies for three years, in some cases. Walk-ins are not welcome.

Junk said he cannot disclose which companies lease rooms for workers. But “large anchor tenants” are familiar names throughout the oil patch.

Stan Katz, who heads up construction, said he managed to put the Dunn County camp together in 78 days, plus 10 for interior work, a schedule that is usually met only in summer months.

This year, “The snow gods loved me,” Katz said.

The rolling site itself was challenging and required a 35-foot cut off the back end. The facility still has an 8-foot elevation difference from front to back, barely noticeable along the long, center hallway.

Like its other facilities, the Dunn County Lodge is designed with a front entry and a master hallway leading to lockers, lounges and dining before opening off to smaller hallways with small private rooms and bathrooms.

Jing Hua of China, a field engineer, was one of the few female workers staying at the facility this week. Her oil services company, Schlumberger, brought a crew down for a fracture treatment project.

Hua said she would be at the camp for about 10 days. Normally she is in an apartment in Williston when she’s not on the road.

She said she’s never had a bad experience, but said it’s odd to be around so many men all the time at the camp, though that’s standard in the oil field.

She prefers staying in motels and making her own food choices, rather than eating the dining room fare, she said. Lunch for her Thursday was two hot dogs, no buns, and a salad.

Her co-worker, Kevin Chidester of Idaho, said he lives in a man camp for two weeks and is home one week. He said his company pays his living expenses at the camp, but he’d be on his own to pay for an apartment.

“You gotta live somewhere,” he said. “It’s better than a motel. The food tastes better here.”

Man camp moratoriums in Dunn, Williams and Mountrail counties have stunted the growth of temporary housing, Junk said.

“If we could attain permits, this could be as big as the Tioga camp (of 1,100 beds),” he said.

Some housing operators applied for permits they haven’t used to lock out other operators, Junk said.

As a token of its local appreciation, Junk said, Target Logistics will donate 20 new Apple iPads to the Killdeer Public School, about a $10,000 gift.

“The school doesn’t have the money,” he said. 

Reach reporter Lauren Donovan at 220-5511 or [email protected]

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