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Continued: A year in North Dakota: Stories of people and change

  • Article by: CURT BROWN , Star Tribune
  • Last update: January 6, 2014 - 4:15 PM

“They call us land men,” he said. “What we do is investigate, negotiate and argue.”

As middle man between the oil companies and ranchers in western North Dakota, Stiller searches courthouses for titles and figures out who owns the mineral rights. Then he greases the deal, acquiring rights of way easements for pipelines to move the oil and natural gas from this remote landscape to a world thirsting for fuel.

“I do love making deals,” said Stiller.

He’s been married four times, lives in Billings, Mont., but spends most of his time in a friend’s Airstream trailer at the Tobacco Garden campground 20 miles northwest of here.

“I’ve retired three times but needed something to do,” he said. “I make more money than a medical doctor or an engineer, which is hard to imagine.”

As he steers his Mercedes through the canyon country known as the Little Missouri Breaks, he spots a prominent landowner — Bill Jorgenson of the Bar U Ranch. They talk on the road about 15 miles of potential pipeline that one of Stiller’s clients would like to put on Jorgenson’s property.

“Anyway you can work it out,” Stiller says in parting, lighting another Pall Mall and driving off past another well pad tucked in a hillside.

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