Oil industry continues to spur BNSF Railway to add jobs
By Anthony Varriano
Ranger-Review Staff Writer
BNSF Railway created nearly twice as many long-term jobs in Glendive last year, 92, than the entire Keystone XL pipeline will create in the nation once it is built if State Department figures are accurate.
Since Bakken oil production in North Dakota climbed above 200,000 barrels per day in 2009, Burlington Northern Santa Fe Montana spokesperson Matthew Jones said they have hired 315 people in Glendive, including 39 so far this year, with a goal of 100 new jobs in 2014.
In order to preserve and continue this growth, Jones said BNSF has increased this year’s capital spending to a record $5 billion, with more than $900 million of the capital planned for expansion and maintenance of the Northern Corridor where Bakken oil rides the rails.
This commitment by BNSF will accommodate more traffic and create even more Montana jobs installing and maintaining rails.
Loading facilities are also necessary to accommodate the Canadian oil sands, and the Bakken shale formation has given railroads the opportunity to prove they can build those facilities quickly.
The $5 billion capital commitment by BNSF will continue addressing the need for increased capacity until the pipeline is approved and built, which Dawson County Commissioner Jim Skillestad estimated to be 2017 at the earliest. By then railroads will have met the demands of the Canadian oil sands, but Jones said BNSF’s investment isn’t just to accommodate the oil companies.
“The record level of investment BNSF is making across its system and along the Northern Corridor is driven by volume growth in multiple freight categories and will benefit all commodities,” Jones explained.
“Freight traffic in general is projected to increase with or without additional oil traffic,” Jones added.
Anthony Varriano can be contacted at email@example.com.