Oil To Die For

“What is the most dangerous job in America? … I’d have to say oilfield worker.”
Curtis Hazel, Killdeer Area Ambulance

An oil boom in North Dakota has made a lot of people a lot of money, but not without sacrifice. “Oil To Die For” is an interactive documentary by independent producer and reporter Todd Melby that examines the dark downside to the “Black Gold Boom”. It is also not really a Helios project. We lent out our precious lead programmer, Dan Sundy, to Todd and his people, and they were good enough to return him in one piece, in the process making such a cool and compelling piece that we are including it here in our portfolio, as a testament to the collaborative work model.


Scrolling through the chapters of the single page site, the story of soon-to-be husband, new dad and well watcher, Dustin Bergsing, emerges. The piece uses an array of media – audio clips and video; images; charts; letters and documents; graphic timelines; YouTube embeds – to tell about Dustin’s death while working for Marathon Oil Company. And it tackles a big question: was this “a preventable death?”

To get answers, Melby filters through industry data and legal documents. The interactive also includes excerpts from a company whistleblower who is attempting to alert Marathon Oil to safety hazards. All the while, we get glimpses into Dustin’s life and see his loved ones mourning a potentially needless death.


“Oil To Die For” launched on May 18, 2015 alongside the airing of television documentary “Black Gold Boom” (Prairie Public, North Dakota and other PBS stations later this year).

Watch Oil To Die For

Lots of people worked really hard on this project.