Page 2 of 2 Previous

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.

  • related content

  • Video: Fleeing the Bakken

    Friday January 3, 2014

    While many have migrated to the Bakken oil fields in search of fortune and adventure, others have chosen to...

  • 'It's an opportunity for me'

    Friday January 3, 2014

    Nathaniel Kroshus didn’t come here for high wages or to escape his past. He’s here chasing his passion.The 31-year-old from...

  • 'It’s all about being in a hurry'

    Friday January 3, 2014

    “There are chemicals and explosives, lots of high pressure and so many different things that can get you killed that you’d better know what you’re doing before you step on...

  • 'I hope I'm out here another 20 years'

    Friday January 3, 2014

    It’s 6:40 a.m. and a dramatic flaming sunrise illuminates the hilly prairie around “Raven Rig No. 1,” one of nearly...

  • Cast adrift on the ocean of oil

    Tuesday January 7, 2014

    A teacher, a preacher and a cop decide they’ve had enough of the crime, the traffic and the outsiders.

  • Floor hand Ray Gerrish worked to make repairs on a drilling rig ­outside Watford City, one of nearly 200 towering rigs in the Bakken.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions


Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters






question of the day

Poll: Do you like the Twins' offseason moves so far?

Weekly Question