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Halliburton moving more people to area

Amid a housing shortage, a big oil player is in talks of moving about 150 individuals and families to the area.

"We are currently experiencing an upswing in our business in the area and have stepped up our staffing efforts to meet those needs," said Diana Gabriel, Halliburton's senior manager of public relations, in an e-mail Wednesday evening. "In addition to hiring locally, individuals from many states relocate to the Williston (North Dakota) area for Halliburton positions."

Halliburton would not confirm how many employees are being sent to the area.

Joe Frenzel, Dickinson city commissioner and owner of local real estate company Everett Real Estate Inc., said his company has helped a few families and individuals employed with Halliburton find homes in the Dickinson area.

However, the housing shortage could pose problems.

"Dickinson is going to have real difficulty trying to meet the needs of the Halliburton employees if they move them in here as fast as suggestion is they were going to move," Frenzel said.

Frenzel estimates Dickinson can "absorb" five to ten new residents a month.

"They're (Halliburton) talking 150, so if they do that over a three or four month period, I don't know what they're going to do," Frenzel said. "I don't know how we'd handle it. We can't absorb nearly the people that they're suggesting in the time they're suggesting we've got to do it."

Frenzel said his office received six or more rental inquiries from Halliburton on Friday.

While the Dickinson Area Chamber of Commerce has not received official requests from Halliburton for informational relocation packets, they expect to and are preparing for when the time comes.

"Certainly we have had a lot of services come to North Dakota because some of the other states are doing less and less oil and gas business and we're doing more and more," said Bruce Hicks, assistant director of the North Dakota Industrial Commission's Oil and Gas Division.

Halliburton has been an employer in Williston since 1984 and had operations in the area for 25 years.

In August, a nearly 31-acre facility was constructed in Williston to better provide additional services, Gabriel said in an e-mail, adding the "long-term outlook is positive."

Dickinson City Commissioner Shirley Dukart said from what she understood, some Halliburton families were moving to Williston due to a local housing shortage.

"As housing options are limited in the area, many Halliburton employees work a (two-by-one) schedule, two weeks on and one week off," Gabriel said in an e-mail. "This schedule allows a large contingency of our employees to live in Williston during their two weeks on and commute home during their one week off."

Ramona McLean, office manager at the Williston Area Chamber of Commerce, said from what she understands, the Williston area is experiencing a housing shortage along with a hotel room shortage.

Frenzel said if housing needs increase rapidly and significantly, the only option to alleviate the scarcity may be to bring in trailers.

"Some of the companies have brought in trailers and we call them man-camps," McLean said.