Natural gas processing plant near Belfield to open in NovemberBELFIELD — Whiting Oil and Gas Corp. and Westcon Inc. are teaming up to build a gas processing plant south of Belfield. The plant will enable Whiting to process gas from oil deposits locally, said plant supervisor Marvin Welnel.
By: April Baumgarten, The Dickinson Press
BELFIELD — Whiting Oil and Gas Corp. and Westcon Inc. are teaming up to build a gas processing plant south of Belfield. The plant will enable Whiting to process gas from oil deposits locally, said plant supervisor Marvin Welnel.
“Whiting is in the process of doing quite a bit of drilling in this area,” Welnel said. “In turn, this has spurred them to build a gas processing plant here also.”
Denver-based Whiting recorded having 2,200 wells and 580,000 acres in 13 states in 2010. Whiting currently has approximately 500 oil rigs in North Dakota, said Jack Ekstrom, Whiting vice president of corporate relations.
“We anticipate that we will have sufficient producing wells,” Ekstrom said. “We are anxious to get it up and running.”
The plant will process 30 million cubic feet of gas per day. The plant will then transport natural gas via pipeline across the country in the form of propane, butane and gasoline.
The gas processing plant will cost $90 million to construct, a Whiting representative said.
Westcon, located in Bismarck, is the construction company hired to build the plant. Mario Silva, Westcon construction manager, said they started on the plant in June. The project is 70 percent complete, and he expects the plant to be fully operational in November.
Silva said the project was going well. He said the biggest problem was the weather.
“We struggled in the beginning with the rain,” Silva said. “We operated about 60,000 man hours with no injuries or incidents. That’s a big accomplishment.”
Two things can happen to gas from drilling. Companies can either capture the gas or flare the gas. Ekstrom said flaring the gas is a waste of an economic resource.
“When you get to a certain size, as we are planning west of Dickinson, we will be able to capture the natural gas and process it and sell it,” Ekstrom said. “That increases the revenue to our mineral interest owners.”
Flaring gas has also been an environmental issue. Welnel said Whiting is one of the only companies that captures the gas and reproduces for economical use.
“Whiting goes the extra mile to get this gas in the pipelines and on the truck to get it to another place to be processed,” Welnel said. “We go the extra mile to be environmentally friendly.”
Drilling for oil and gas has created more jobs and opportunities in North Dakota. Ekstrom said the plant will create more jobs. Whiting has 75 job openings in North Dakota. Silva said he has 70 men working on the construction site. Welnel said they expect to expand.
The plant will pump money into North Dakota, Ekstrom added, and it will have an economic impact on the area.
“You need people to staff the plant,” Ekstrom said. “You need technicians to install the equipment. You need to buy pipelines and equipment. All of that requires technicians, technology, and purchase of equipment.”
“We have construction people coming on,” Welnel said. “We are adding new power lines in here from a local company. We just ordered lunch from the Dairy Queen. It impacts a lot of people. The list just goes on and on.”
Welnel was excited to see the plant finished and how it would affect the area.
“I think the local communities are going to continue to grow,” Welnel said. “The population is going to get bigger in Belfield. We’re happy to be here.”