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Sunday, February 28, 2021

Private Bakken club gets evicted as oil plunge tests shale boom

Isaac Arnsdorf (c) 2014, Bloomberg News. NEW YORK — A private club in North Dakota’s Bakken shale that once charged membership fees as high as $25,000 and served jumbo shrimp cocktail was evicted this month in a sign that oil’s plunge is undercutting the region’s go-go years.

The Bakken Club was ordered on Dec. 17 to vacate its premises on Williston’s Main Street after failing to pay rent, state court records show. The club owed $21,598 for rent plus $1,329.90 in late fees, the landlord, On The Spot Development, said in a Nov. 25 complaint. One check bounced.

The eviction, in the capital of the oilfield that set off the record surge in U.S. output, comes as a price war casts doubt on the boom’s future. The benchmark for U.S. crude oil fell to $52.70 a barrel at one point Tuesday, the cheapest since May 2009, from more than $107 in June. Drillers such as Continental Resources Inc., the Bakken pioneer led by billionaire Harold Hamm, are idling rigs and cutting spending.

The Bakken Club featured a Tuscan-style menu (linguine pescatore, roasted rack of lamb), a 30-foot hardwood and copper bar, five high-definition TVs, meeting rooms, and an airport shuttle, according to its website. The cheapest membership cost $5,000 with a $250 monthly food minimum, while the highest level commanded $25,000.

In a court filing, the club accused the landlord of failing to return a security deposit, entering unannounced and neglecting the property’s sidewalks and landscaping. The landlord also undermined the business by posting on the club’s Facebook page, saying the kitchen “makes everything from a box” and “the food is terrible,” according to the Dec. 2 counterclaim.

The phone number on the club’s website was disconnected or out of service. Attorneys for both sides didn’t immediately return phone calls seeking comment.

The eviction was reported earlier by the Williston Herald.

Robert Francis
Robert is a Fort Worth native and longtime editor of the Fort Worth Business Press. He is a former president of the local Society of Professional Journalists and was a freelancer for a variety of newspapers, weeklies and magazines, including American Way, BrandWeek and InformatonWeek. A graduate of TCU, Robert has held a variety of writing and editing positions at publications such as the Grand Prairie Daily News and InfoWorld. He is also a musician and playwright.

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