Gatekeepers of the refinery: Lab chemists play large role in Dakota Prairie Refining

Holly Dalen, laboratory supervisor at Dakota Prairie Refining, shows how to use a flash point analyzer on Thursday inside the lab on the refinery’s site west of Dickinson.

Holly Dalen, laboratory supervisor at Dakota Prairie Refining, shows how to use a flash point analyzer on Thursday inside the lab on the refinery’s site west of Dickinson.

In a windowless room inside of a non-descript steel building at Dakota Prairie Refining’s sprawling facility west of Dickinson, there are six people whose job is to make certain America’s first greenfield refinery built since 1976 turns Bakken crude oil into diesel fuel.

“It’s a chem nerd’s dream,” laboratory technician and chemist Nicole Haller said of the lab where she works on the 375-acre refinery site.

The small lab crew — led by supervisor Holly Dalen of Dickinson — has some of the most important jobs at the refinery, which is in the final stages of testing before ramping up operations.

They already spend each day testing crude oil, diesel fuel and its sulphur levels, as well as other products to be produced by the refinery. They also run constant tests on city wastewater to be used in the refining process.

The lab crew act as the refinery’s gatekeepers. If a product goes in or comes out of the refinery, the lab has its eyes and instruments on it.

Continue reading

B&A Global Energy sets sights on ending flaring in Bakken

Photo by Jonathan Pezza / Special to The Press Jack Kelley, president and CEO of B&A Global Energy of Tulsa, Okla., left, speaks with Michael Wu, inventor of the Energy Capturing Operating System (ECOS) at a well site in Mongolia in this undated photo provided by the company.

Photo by Jonathan Pezza / Special to The Press
Jack Kelley, president and CEO of B&A Global Energy of Tulsa, Okla., left, speaks with Michael Wu, inventor of the Energy Capturing Operating System (ECOS) at a well site in Mongolia in this undated photo provided by the company.

Jack Kelley and Skip Bennett are an unassuming duo with a big idea.

The entrepreneurs, together with a Taiwanese inventor and engineer, have a plan to capture natural gas, eliminate flaring at the wellhead, create a viable commodity from that gas, and pay both energy companies and royalty owners for their share.

B&A Global Energy, a small company based in Tulsa, Okla., has acquired the rights to the Energy Capturing Operating System (ECOS), a portable refinery able to be placed at a well site. The ECOS captures and processes methane gas produced in the hydraulic fracturing process into liquefied natural gas (LNG).

“This is a game-changing technology to the oil and gas business,” said Kelley, B&A Global’s president and CEO and a 25-year veteran of the energy industry who is also a retired U.S. Air Force pilot and a licensed architect.

B&A Global wants to bring its ECOS technology to the U.S. — specifically to North Dakota’s Bakken and Texas’ Eagle Ford shale formations — after witnessing the technology work in Asia.

“We have chosen the Bakken as our focus,” said Bennett, B&A Global’s board chairman and founder.

The idea, they say, is simple.

Continue reading

What do I want my 30s to be about?

Something dawned on me the other day. Tomorrow, I’ll no longer be 30. I’ll actually be in my 30s.

I’ve reached that stage in life where everything begins to slow down while simultaneously becoming more complicated.

Spending the past year as a 30-year-old, I never truly felt like I was “in my 30s “ As my 31st birthday arrives Monday, that feeling is beginning to change.

At 30, I got married, lost an old friend far too early and said goodbye to my second grandparent in as many years.

That, along with the speculation of what is to come in life, has led me to spend more time thinking about the impact I’m making as I start my own family, play a visible role in our community and try to leave a lasting impact on our world — even if that “world” is limited to southwest North Dakota.

Continue reading

Thrifty White Pharmacy leaving mall in March

The new Thrifty White Pharmacy building is shown on the Third Avenue West frontage road Friday in north Dickinson.

A longtime tenant of the Prairie Hills Mall is leaving for its own space.

Dave Reuter, vice president of personnel for Thrifty White Pharmacy, said the Dickinson business is relocating to its own building nearing completion on the Third Avenue West frontage road between Brady Martz and Eyewear Concepts and behind the North Hills Shopping Center.

The new pharmacy plans to be open in its new location Monday, March 2, Reuter said. Its final day at the mall is Saturday, Feb. 28.

“This really gets us into a real building that’s a professional pharmacy,” he said.

The store, commonly known by its former name, White Drug, is selling out of its food and other merchandise at the mall location through the rest of February.

Continue reading

Co-op store vital to Regent

The Regent Co-Op Store’s facade has barely changed over the years. It opened in 1936 and continues to serve the small community today.

REGENT — Darrel Remington remembers when Regent supported three grocery stores.

“All were important, of course,” he said as he looked over a mostly quiet Main Street on the morning of Feb. 5. “Then it narrowed down to eventually the one.”

The one, thanks to sustained community efforts, has fought through the tough times and still provides an essential service to the small southwest North Dakota town of less than 200 people.

Continue reading

Men of steel: Mott’s Roadmaster makes impact for energy, ag industries by fabrication

Roadmaster manager Corey Johnson stands in the shop the company moved into last December.

MOTT — Mott sits on the outer edge of western North Dakota’s Oil Patch. Still, the small town of about 800 people has found ways to contribute to the bustling energy industry.

The company making perhaps the biggest impact is Roadmaster, a subsidiary of K&K Construction in West Fargo.

Though its name can be deceiving — a remnant of about a decade ago when its primary task was fabricating and welding metals for asphalt paving equipment — Roadmaster is contracted to fabricate and weld structural steel used on electrical substations that end up being used on oil rigs and at major substations throughout the country. Along with that, the shop also makes cattle creep feeders.

“A lot of this goes nationwide,” manager Corey Johnson said. “It’s a big process.”

Video: Jim Ferderer explains what Roadmaster does.

Continue reading

Fisher Group strives to be ‘best in class’

Four years ago, Mike Fisher set out to bring a handful of companies he ran together under one roof.

Today, The Fisher Group employs an estimated 250 people at a more than a dozen area businesses and has turned into a management company that has given area residents businesses they not only want but, in many ways, need.

“We want to be the best at what we do,” Fisher said. “We want to be the best in class.”

Continue reading

Still building a dream: Despite a decline in oil prices creating uncertainty, southwest ND continues to beckon those seeking success

A worker for Tommy Thompson Contracting measures a 2-by-4 piece of wood Tuesday while building a home not far from the new CHI St. Joseph’s Health campus in Dickinson.

Note: This column is written as the introduction to The Dickinson Press’ annual Progress edition, which begins Sunday, Feb. 1 and continues each Sunday through March 22.

You see them every day. In supermarkets, at your job or school, as you sit down to eat, or when you drive past a construction site.

Almost everywhere you look in southwest North Dakota, people are achieving the so-called “American Dream.”

Western North Dakota, for the past five years or so, has been a place where just about anyone could get back on their feet. There are people here who were broke only a few years ago but now have thriving businesses or jobs that pay very well. Others were simply able to get out of debt after falling on hard times elsewhere.

Now, however, as we enter a time of simultaneous progress and uncertainty, there seems to be few willing to say the good times are over, even if the boom is.

Continue reading

Getting a fan’s perspective on Super Bowl XLIX

Seattle Seahawks fan Wendy Wilson, left, and New England Patriots fan Jace Schillinger — both employees at Dickinson State University — spoke with me about why they like the teams they do and about the hate each team receives heading into Super Bowl XLIX

Do we really have to watch the Super Bowl today? Does anyone actually like the Seattle Seahawks? Or did they just get fans about three years ago.

How could anyone — especially in western North Dakota — really be a fan of the New England Patriots? I’m from New England, N.D., and I don’t know anyone there who likes the Patriots.

Around here, we’ve got cheeseheads, people who know the lyrics to “Skol Vikings” and a few who are praying that Peyton Manning starts aging like Benjamin Button. Then there are those staunch supporters of more traditional powerhouses who still wax poetic about the days of Steel Curtains, Super Bowl Shuffles or “America’s Team.” And, of course, there are people like me, who support a team that no longer knows how to beat the Seahawks.

So, with all the hubbub over the Patriots’ Deflategate, Marshawn Lynch’s interview skills, and the general dislike levied upon the two Super Bowl teams by opposing fans — including myself — I decided to seek out both a Seahawks fan and a Patriots fan to see what they had to say about today’s game, and chat about what made them fans of their teams.

Continue reading

Dickinson hits 61 degrees, sets record again

T.J. Davie, a Floridian working on a home in Dickinson for Tommy Thompson Contracting, took advantage of the unseasonably warm temperatures Tuesday to work without a shirt.

Dickinson shattered a temperature record Tuesday, hitting 61 degrees and breaking the old record, set in 2008, by 10 degrees.

Temperatures fell just short of the all-time January high for the city, according to the National Weather Service. It was 63 degrees on Jan. 23, 1981. Tuesday, however, was the third-hottest January day ever recorded in Dickinson.

Unfortunately, the warm weather won’t last forever.

April Cooper, a meteorologist with the NWS in Bismarck, said a strong ridge is filtering warm air from the South toward the Great Plains and the Dickinson area has benefited from that. But by the weekend, temperatures are expected to be closer to an average of 24 degrees with a chance of snow expected Saturday.

“It’ll still be well above average through Friday,” she said. “As we get into the weekend, we’ll have a little bit of a cold front move through.” Wednesday’s highs are expected to be around 45 degrees — still almost 20 degrees above normal, according to the NWS.

Movies to watch for guys … for free

Guys, do you ever walk in the house at 7 p.m. on a Monday and the woman in your life has commandeered the primary household TV for her ritualistic viewing of “The Bachelor”?

That means you find yourself in front of a tablet or a TV and can’t find anything good to watch, especially now that Monday Night Football is done for the season.

In that case, here are a few films that can be found on Netflix’s streaming service that can tide you over on those boring Mondays (or any other boring day, really). Continue reading

Marching for life: 2 Trinity students walk at front of of 750,000 during pro-life rally

Reporters and photographers watch as Trinity High School seniors Quinnlyn Nelson, left, and Brittany Berger walk in the March for Life anti-abortion rally in Washington on Thursday. (Submitted Photo)

Quinnlyn Nelson said it took her a while Thursday to grasp the scope of the moment.

Nelson and fellow Trinity High School senior Brittany Berger were among a select few students from North Dakota Catholic high schools given the opportunity to lead the annual March for Life rally against abortion at the National Mall in Washington.

The march drew an estimated 750,000 pro-life supporters, something Nelson said she didn’t immediately understand as she held the March for Life banner and walked at the very front of the rally.

“We were marching and we were going up this hill, and we looked back and I couldn’t see where the line ended,” Nelson said. “Knowing there are this many people that are passionate about this cause, this issue, was unbelievable.” Continue reading

UnFOURgettable: Champions showed up when it mattered most to lead NDSU to fourth straight title

Was there ever really a doubt?

Trailing by four points with about 1½ minutes remaining and with a fourth consecutive FCS championship on the line, did anyone expect the North Dakota State football team to falter Saturday afternoon?

The Bison made history by defeating Missouri Valley Football Conference rival Illinois State 29-27 for the title in dramatic and downright astounding fashion.

They were nowhere near perfect. But when it mattered most, NDSU displayed every bit of that championship swagger it had accumulated over the past four seasons. Continue reading

Blowing snow keeps street crews busy

A group of men, including a Dickinson Fire Department employee, helps push a stuck car that skidded into a drift on the northbound side of Highway 22 on Thursday afternoon.

Snow. Blow. Scrape. Repeat.

The snow removal business in Dickinson has been busy this week, Dickinson’s street maintenance manager Brent Coulter said — and crews didn’t get any relief Thursday as high winds sent snow drifting across city streets throughout the day.

“We’ve had every piece of equipment and every operator available moving snow,” Coulter said Thursday afternoon, adding the city has two contractors assisting in the cleaning efforts.

Often, he said, crews would clean a street and head to the next sketchy spot, only to get calls saying the area they had just cleared was blowing shut again.

“The wind is killing us right now,” Coulter said. Continue reading