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Nitrogen storage tank going up outside Dickinson: Matheson Tri-Gas separates air, provides liquid gases for hydraulic fracturing, medical purposes

Scott Matchey, front, an employee for the CB&I, a Chicago-based construction company, welds a stainless steel ring for the inner tank of a liquid nitrogen storage tank Thursday in southeast Dickinson. Matheson Tri-Gas Inc. is building a plant to produce liquid oxygen and nitrogen through an air separation process. The liquid nitrogen and oxygen is used for medical and industrial purposes.

With buildings seemingly going up at warp speed in and around Dickinson, it's not unusual to notice a new one just about every day.

On the southern outskirts of town sits one particular building that has garnered attention as of late.

Though it looks like it could possibly be both, this circular structure near the corner of Eighth Street Southeast and Ninth Avenue Southeast is not a future lookout tower or nuclear reactor.

The approximate 70-foot high tower-like structure will serve as a nitrogen storage tank as part of a Matheson Tri-Gas air separation unit plant. One of the main exports from the facility -- which could be up and running by later this year -- will be liquid nitrogen for use during the casing aspect of the hydraulic fracturing process.

The facility will be the first commercial plant of its kind in North Dakota, said plant manager Nick Peterson.

"We should be up and running by the end of the year," Peterson said. "There's a lot of work yet to be done and the complex will look a lot different than it does now."

Headquartered out of New Jersey, MTG is attempting to capitalize on what it calls a growing demand for merchant liquid oxygen and nitrogen in North Dakota, according to a media release.

"The new air separation unit will help support the strong economic growth in North Dakota and surrounding areas," said MTG Senior Vice President Butch Miller in the release.

Peterson said the plant will be a mostly unmanned facility and will have a small handful of regular employees. The facility also produces other products for commercial sale, including oxygen for use by hospitals.

Dickinson City Planner Ed Courton said MTG does not have a building permit issued by the city as of yet, but that the city allowed the company to "start construction of some of their infrastructure and hardscape."

During the air separation process, atmospheric air is captured and divided into its primary components.

"It's a safe process," Peterson said. "We're basically taking the air outside and purifying it."

MTG is a subsidiary of Taiyo Nippon Sanso, a large corporation based in Japan.

Bryan Horwath
A Wisconsin native, Horwath has been covering news in the Oil Patch of North Dakota since 2012. Horwath currently serves as the senior agriculture and political reporter for The Dickinson Press and, despite the team's tendency to always let him down, remains a diehard Minnesota Vikings fan.
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