Bakken Club Gets Evicted as Oil Plunge Tests Shale Boom

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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 LLC, 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 as low as $52.70 a barrel today, 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.

“There is going to be somewhat of a slowdown, it just depends how long oil stays at this level,” Joel Lundeen, the club’s co-owner, said by telephone. “Our plans are to reopen, and we have a couple potential places.”

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.

‘Terrible’ Food

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.

David Forenza, one of the landlords, declined to comment.

The eviction was reported earlier by the Williston Herald.

“It was probably more exclusive than Williston typically is,” said Tom Rolfstad, the outgoing director of the city’s economic development organization.

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