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How Man Camps Play a Crucial Role in US Shale Plays


At first glance, a “Man Camp” doesn’t sound like a place an upstanding member of society should spend any amount of time. But, with many roadside motels costing well over $150 per night and occupancy rates running at over 99% in most of the active Oil & Gas regions, Man Camps play a crucial role housing workers across the oil field.

From the outside, the modules look like railroad boxcars. Inside, they have all of the basic necessities, including a bedroom and bathroom. Residents tend to complain about the size of the bedroom, but almost all agree the food is fantastic. In addition to meals, Man Camps offer recreational opportunities, medical services and have 24-hour security.

The Bottom Line

Map of Williams County Permits from Drillinginfo Showing the Activity Driving the Bakken Boom

Camps can be built in a matter of weeks to feed and house large workforce operations for both the long and short-term. Typically, they shelter between 200 to 300 workers, but can expand to house up to 1,000. Since they are so mobile, they’re also easy to relocate to new work sites. There are several companies that specialize in constructing and managing the operations. Target Logistics, Ramtech and Morgan Mancamps are a few of the most prominent. The cost per individual varies based on length of contract, number of employees, etc., but it’s all negotiable.

An estimated 10,000 oil field workers live in Man Camps throughout the United States. Most of the workers (7,000) live in North Dakota where lodging is scarce. How long these camps are needed will depend on the popularity of each shale play and the speed at which developers can build out infrastructure. In the Bakken, estimates range anywhere between 5 to 40 years. Local communities have expressed a variety of opinions, ranging from support to outright bans. Some like that the camps alleviate crowding in hotels, allowing families and businessmen from other industries to stay locally, while keeping housing prices down and helping the infrastructure to grow. Others communities dislike the strain they put on local resources, such as water and sanitation services. But, regardless of opinion, Man Camps will continue to fulfill a vital industry need for the foreseeable future.

Now it’s your turn. Have you ever lived in a Man Camp? If so, what was it like? Please, leave a comment below.

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