April 24, 2014

Behind the berm, refinery site takes shape

By Jerry W. Kram

Richard Meyer has heard the rumors.

The CEO of Thunder Butte Petroleum knows people have questions about the pace of construction at the site of the proposed refinery near Makoti. He thinks one reason people aren’t aware of the progress is that the view of the site is currently blocked by a large pile of topsoil that has been stockpiled next to North Dakota Highway 23.

"The pile of dirt is a topsoil berm that was cleared out from the transload facility," Mayer said. "What you can’t see is the construction of two 140,000 barrel capacity crude oil tanks on the other side."

The foundation for one of the tanks has been completed, Mayer said. The forms are being moved so contractors can start pouring the second foundation.

"People keep coming up to me and asking why there is no construction going on out there," Mayer said. "There is all kinds of construction going on. There are concrete crews, the guys who set the forms, carpenters, crane operators, heavy equipment operators, all sorts of things going on out there. You just can’t see them from the highway. I just realized that."

With work proceeding on the storage tanks, Mayer said Thunder Butte is preparing to close bidding for the construction of the railroad spur that will connect the tank farm to the Canadian Pacific Railroad line. He said the rail line will be the biggest investment of the first phase of the project.

"There will be 3.5 maybe four miles of track involved," Mayer said. "It will be one of the most expensive parts of the phase one construction. It will be a dual loop system with a ladder rack for onloading and offloading product."


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