Work starts at refinery site

MAKOTI A crew with heavy equipment began moving dirt this past weekend near Makoti for the construction of the transload facility, the first part of the Three Affiliated Tribes’ clean fuels refinery project.

Glenda Baker Embry, public relations officer for the tribes, who visited the site Tuesday, said nine employees with Park Construction, a Minneapolis firm, began the grading work at the site 2 1/2 miles west of Makoti on Saturday.

The construction of the transload facility is the first part of the tribal refinery project.

Brad Schimke, construction manager with the Corval Group, a Minneapolis firm, said the first dirt was turned over at 9 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 9. He said they will do grading on about 50 acres at the site for the transload facility.

As of Wednesday evening, the crew was scheduled to start working around the clock, seven days a week. Schimke said the crew also is considering working Thanksgiving Day.

The grading work is expected to be completed in about five weeks. Other work for the transload facility will get under way later.

Rich Mayer, chief executive officer of Thunder Butte Petroleum Services Inc., the tribal refinery project, said they plan to finish the transload facility by June 2014.

The transload facility and refinery site is just off N.D. Highway 23 and also near Canadian-Pacific Railway tracks. In May, a ground-breaking ceremony was held at the site.

The refinery is conservatively estimated and projected to cost $450 million, according to tribal officials at the ground-breaking event.

The plans are for the refinery to refine Bakken Formation crude oil into diesel fuel, propane and naphtha products at the site in southwest Ward County, where the Three Affiliated Tribes own 469 acres of land. A portion of the land is specifically for the refinery. Some of the land will be used for feed for the tribes’ bison.

The refinery will be one of the first refineries built in the United States in many years. The last refinery built in the U.S. was built in Garyville, La., and began operating in 1976.

The state has one refinery, the Tesoro Corp., in Mandan. Two other refinery projects have been proposed in North Dakota.

The tribal refinery project began about 10 years ago but was delayed at times because of federal permits and other approvals the Three Affiliated Tribes were required to obtain.

Today, a meeting is planned with the refinery’s board of directors and others involved in the project, Embry said. The group is meeting at the Tribal Administration building, west of New Town.