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Courtesy of the Billings Police Deparment

The biggest obstacle to robust development of Bakken shale oil could be illegal drugs.

“Chief executives for Halliburton, Schlumberger and other major companies drilling in the Bakken all complain about the drug problem,” according to Fred Dickson, chief investment strategist and senior vice president for the Davidson Companies.

“They are just having a dickens of a time finding employees and keeping them on the job, even though the wages for those oil service jobs, by any stretch of the imagination, are outrageous,” he told the Missoulian. “And the biggest reason coming back is drugs.”

Many applicants who hear they have to take a drug test to get hired and then submit to random tests just walk away, he said.

Eastern Montana has enjoyed six years of spillover effects from the “incredible explosion of activity” in the Bakken, he told the Missoulian.

This Bakken boom should last for a generation, he said.

“Will there be enough workers, enough distribution system growth and enough water for the simultaneous development of these plays?” Dickson said.