In The Permian Basin, Oil Field Workers Call ‘Man Camps’ Home

A housing shortage in oil country means many workers sleep in their temporary digs in shifts.

By Alexandra HartAugust 16, 2018 11:35 am, ,

The oil fields of the Permian Basin are booming. Workers from around the state pour into far west Texas for a piece of the wealth. But as the populations of surrounding cities and towns swells with the influx of workers, there isn’t always enough housing for everyone. The solution – so-called “man camps” – temporary housing structures that provide oil field workers with dormitory-style accommodations.

Rachel Adams Heard is a reporter for Bloomberg, and she spent some time visiting these complexes. She says man camp housing units look a lot like a single-wide trailer, but a bit bigger. She says some of the units were trucked to Texas from the Bakken fields in North Dakota, once the oil boom there died down.

“They’re meant for these workers to have a place to stay when they’re not working 14-hour shifts at these job sites,” she says.

The largest camp Adams Heard visited had 80 buildings, with enough space for 1,200 residents. Others have enough space for a few hundred.

To accommodate the large number of workers, some man camp spaces are shared.

“Some of the ones I went to, it was a worker who had the day shift would split with a worker who has the night shift,” she says.

Adams Heard says living quarters feature blackout curtains, mattress toppers to make sleeping more comfortable, and grills for outdoor cooking.

Written by Shelly Brisbin.