TIOGA, N.D. — A college student from a town in North Dakota’s oil patch says he wants to return home and help eliminate some of the hardships that have come with the increased energy activity.

Maxwell Johnson, a petroleum engineering major at the University of North Dakota, is a Watford City native who is working this summer as an intern for Hess Corp. He’s helping with a special project that would reduce truck traffic that hauls water to producing oil wells.

Johnson, 22, said he plans to graduate next spring and return to his home area.

“My goal has been to get my degree and come back to my community or one of these communities and help build it back to what we thought was a beautiful place,” he said. “It still is beautiful, but there are just some hardships for everyone. I just want to help my community in any way that I can.”

The oil boom had begun when Johnson graduated from high school in 2009, but it was still relatively quiet in Watford City. He wanted to become an engineer and get into the oil industry, but at the time he didn’t know how available job opportunities would be.

“I went to school and a couple years later it was just off the charts,” Johnson said.

This is Johnson’s third summer internship in the oil patch. The project he’s currently working on is meant to the cut the company’s cost of hauling water, in addition to reducing the wear and tear on roads and cutting down on traffic.

“Not all of the savings are in economics,” Johnson said.



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