Wolf Point Herald

$30 Million Cleanup, New Development Planned For Wolf Point Refinery

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The developer of the former Kenco Refinery east of Wolf Point envisions an environmental cleanup of the site and construction of a new refinery, built to current standards that could accommodate 20,000 barrels daily, and a rail terminal, both serving the Bakken Oil Field.
The long abandoned Kenco Refinery opened in 1963 and closed in 1985. The site, located about seven miles east of Wolf Point on Montana Hwy. 13, is about one half mile south of U.S. Hwy 2.
Ken Elliott and Steve Houston, doing business locally as Wolf Point Green LLC, purchased the 110-acre former Kenco site in December 2011 with plans to build what Elliott called a “clean-energy campus,” that would include a new refinery and rail terminal within about four years, possibly less. Longer range plans include a wind farm and solar and geothermal energy production that would partially power the refinery. There are also plans to build a hotel, greenhouses heated with energy produced within the site and a commercial fish farm.
Elliott said he envisions oil industry development in Montana to increase beyond current development near the North Dakota border that includes development that has been going on in the Culbertson and Bainville areas.
“There are 15 crude oil terminals in North Dakota. We’ve got none in Montana,” Elliott said of the need to build a rail terminal.
“One of the things the Burlington Northern is interested in working with us is the risk of fires and we’re out here, not in a community,” Elliott said.
A refinery currently under construction near Dickinson, N.D., would be the first since the 1970s. It is slated to open before a refinery in the Wolf Point area could be completed.
Currently, much of the Bakken Oilfield’s crude oil is shipped south for refining.
Elliott said a refinery in eastern Montana would be a source of producing diesel fuel, which is needed by farmers and ranchers.
Known as the Kenco Refinery, both Kenco Refining Inc., and Tesoro Petroleum Corp., operated the former refinery during the 22 years it was in operation. Ken Luff, now of Denver, Colo., was the principal owner.
That original refinery was on between 25 and 30 acres of the 110-acre property.
The remains of a crude oil furnace that vented to the atmosphere, other now unusable equipment in various states of disrepair, the remains of Kenco’s office building, several tanks and remains of tanks, and acres of oil and diesel fuel saturated soil remain at the site. In some places, oil has soaked several feet beneath the surface, some not visible, while there are oily patches on the ground in some locations.
“There have been 11 [environmental] studies on this site,” Elliott said.
“We’ve got a heck of an environmental cleanup,” Elliott said.
A cleanup of an estimated 315,000 cubic yards of contaminated soil is estimated by a recent study to cost about $30 million. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimated the cost at $25 million in 2008.
The EPA declared the property a superfund cleanup site in 1997. It is a designated Brownfield site where expansion, redevelopment or reuse of the property might be complicated by the presence of hazardous substances, pollutants or contaminants.
“They’ve had one environmental issue after another here,” Elliott said.
He said there was a fire at the site soon after it opened in 1963.
Wolf Point Green is working with the Wolf Point headquartered Great Northern Development Corporation and the Eastern Montana Brownfields Coalition. The two organizations are administering the Clean Up Revolving Loan Fund and Assessment Grant for petroleum and hazardous substance cleanup.
“Martin [DeWitt, executive director of GNDC] and his group reached out to us in 2011. He suggested we take a look at the refinery,” Elliott said.
“I met with the EPA a couple of weeks ago in Denver,” he said.
Elliott said he told EPA officials what his plans are, including to build a new refinery.
“We’re looking at somewhere in the neighborhood of 1,300 jobs that will be created with this,” he said.
Elliott said a million barrels a day of oil reflects about 50 percent of what is in the ground.
“Everybody in this part of the state knows what it’s like in North Dakota. It’s a disaster,” Elliott said.
He said eastern Montana could get ahead of it with new infrastructure, housing and schools.
“We work all over the country. The county commissioners here have been great,” Elliott said. “The tribe has been very good working with us.”
Elliott said Wolf Point Green has the support of GNDC, the Fort Peck Tribes and Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont.
Tester chairs the United States Senate Committee on Indian Affairs.
“So he wants it to happen,” Elliott said.
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Once Refinery Office
The building that housed the Kenco Refinery office remains standing in ruins.
(Photo by John Plestina)
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Refinery Now In Ruins
Parts of the long shuttered refinery are in ruins.
(Photo by John Plestina)
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Oil Saturated
Oil saturated soil remains at what is left of an oil tank.
(Photo by John Plestina)

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Oily Soil
Small pools of oily soil remain in some places.
(Photo by John Plestina)