The foundation has been laid for North Dakota’s first new refinery since 1954.

Administrators will move into their office building at the Dakota Prairie Refinery, 4 miles west of Dickinson, in about two weeks as hiring picks up.

Cranes and crews are building the storage tanks, and the skeleton of the maintenance building is up.

The air coolers are in from Tulsa, Okla.; the process units are coming from Houston by truck early next year; and the crude distillation column is currently being shipped in from Shanghai, plant manager David Podratz said.

The refinery will tap into North Dakota’s abundant crude oil supply and work to fill underserved diesel markets in the energy and agriculture sectors.

The demand for diesel has grown with oil production - it’s at 53,000 barrels per day now and is expected to top 75,000 bpd by 2025.

But the state currently imports more than half of its diesel.

The refinery will produce about 7,000 barrels, or 45 truckloads, of diesel fuel daily when it becomes operational next December.

“The refinery’s gonna be very valuable, not just for the oil industry but for the agricultural industry as well,” North Dakota Petroleum Council spokeswoman Tessa Sandstrom said.

The oil boom’s thirst for diesel and the state’s lack of supply has meant operators are pulling it from other areas, like refineries in Montana, North Dakota commerce Commissioner Al Anderson said.

“So with that site going into play right there they’re going to have a huge transportation advantage on anyone outside of state in particular,” he said.

The new supply of diesel should also reduce pricing volatility.

MDU Resources Group Inc. is heading up the infrastructure expertise and local ties, while Calumet Specialty Products Partners brings refinery experience.

The $300 million project will permanently employ 90 when operational.

“It’s just another way that the economy’s starting to diversify as a result of oil and gas production,” Sandstrom said.

The facility is currently recruiting 40 operators that will go through a customized and condensed process plant technology program at Bismarck State College, Podratz said.

The first eight-person class will start in early January.