Mapping the North Dakota Oil Boom

The state of North Dakota maintains one of the best, free GIS datasets in the nation. Not only is it available to surf, but most of the datasets can be downloaded and played with in the GIS program of your choice.

I recently downloaded the almsot exhaustive dataset of oil wells in the state and played with it in ArcGIS as I prepared an informal presentation on our recent research in the North Dakota Oil Patch. The resulting map is below.WellsGIS

The green dots represent wells from the most recent boom nad the various other color dots represent earlier booms. The black specs are wells that are still active. I was particularly interested in wells dating to before the first 1950 oil boom including some in the Red River Valley from the late 1940s. It might be useful to look for some of the earlier well sites just to get a sense for how these places might appear in the landscape.

Since I’m currently cruising at 30,000+ feet, it’s probably best to keep this short, but I’ll mess a bit more with these maps over the next few weeks.


  1. Hello,

    I’m interested in looking at the oil development by date and came across your very interesting image. I’ve been trying to use the GIS information, and have even been in touch with the Oil and Gas division’s GIS folks, in hopes of finding more information like this. Would you be willing to provide more specific direction on how to access this data, or even specifically where you found it? The shape files available from ND don’t seem to have date breakdowns and I’ve been having trouble finding it myself.


    1. Sure! Drop me a line at either my gmail or UND email. I’m in the department of history there. I’m more than happy to share what I did.


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