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March 13, 2015

Tank maker expanding in Belle Fourche

Just nine months after it opened a facility in Belle Fourche, Permian Tank & Manufacturing Inc. is expanding its operation, more than doubling the size of its facility.

The Texas-based maker of storage tanks for the petroleum industry opened in Belle Fourche in June 2014. Workers there have been cutting, shaping and welding sheet metal into large tanks, some nearly 16 feet in diameter. After the customer-specified fittings are added, the tanks are painted, coated and delivered to oilfields in North Dakota and Wyoming.

Permian-500.jpgCurrently the last step in the process, painting and coating, is done by contractors in Belle Fourche, Wyoming and North Dakota. However, facility manager Bob Sieve said, Permian will soon take that work in-house. The company is adding 22,000 square feet to its 20,000-square-foot facility.

Why Belle Fourche? A big reason, Sieve said, is the city’s location in the Rushmore Region. “We are centrally located to three major oilfield plays,” he said.

The Rushmore Region is straight south of the booming Williston Basin in North Dakota and straight east of the established Powder River Basin in northeast Wyoming/southern Montana. It’s also fairly close to the emerging Niobrara Shale formation in southern Wyoming/northern Colorado.

The Belle Fourche plant manufactures steel tanks in a variety of sizes, ranging from 300 barrels (12 feet diameter by 15 feet tall) to 1,000 barrels (15 feet, 6 inches in diameter by 30 feet tall).

Sieve said some customers are inquiring about larger tanks, as big as 21 feet, 6 inches in diameter. Transporting a tank that large gets expensive, he added, because of power lines, bridges and other roadblocks must be moved, removed or bypassed.

Permian was the first company to set up shop in Belle Fourche’s new $4.5 million Industrial Rail Park project that is under way. Belle Fourche is developing property on the north edge of the city that will make it easy for companies to ship supplies in and products out by train.

For nearly a century, Belle Fourche has been served by the Colony Line, a Chicago & North Western-built track that runs from Rapid City to Colony, Wyo., east of Belle Fourche. Local companies once shipped everything from live cattle and wool to bentonite and other goods. Today, the line is operated by the Rapid City, Pierre and Eastern Railroad, a subsidiary of Genesee and Wyoming Inc. It’s primary cargo is bentonite, wood products and grain.

When rail service extends to the Industrial Park, Sieve said, the company will likely haul steel and other raw materials to the plant by train.

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