A new company opening in east Minot is hoping to capitalize on increasing activity related to the oil field. Pro Tank Products Inc. is a sister company of Pro Pipe Services, a pipeline service company based in Minot and Reserve, Mont.
Both companies operate out of a building at 4400 E. Burdick Expressway in Minot.
Although he and Pro Tank are new in Minot, manager and part-owner Dan Conlin said he has been "around the area," with 30 years experience in Williston, where he worked for Connor Sales Inc.
"It's a new adventure," said Conlin.
Even in its infancy, Pro Pipe is already having growing pains as it settles into its location. "It's kind of been a long process, but it's getting done," Conlin said. "It's actually in its beginning stages, because this shop isn't going to be big enough for us. It's going to need more size.
"We're crowded in here let's put it that way."
Conlin said Pro Pipe's main focus will be building tanks for the oil field, but that the company would be able to do other types of projects as well.
"It's kind of tied to the oil field, but it's an ongoing process," he said. "We're going to expand as much as we can. Most of the customers want the whole package the tanks, the walkway, all the equipment that they need.
"We're starting out with just tanks, but we'll expand to other stuff."
Production tanks like those made by Pro Tank are necessary elements for working wells in the oil field. The most common tank size is 400 barrels.
"They're needed for every location, unless they're going to do a 'central battery' kind of thing," Conlin said. The tanks store the oil produced by the well until it can be picked up and transported, usually by truck. Normally, enough tanks will be placed at each location to handle the oil if there should be a temporary problem getting to the site such as a blizzard.
"If they can't get out there daily to monitor or to haul the oil to wherever they have to take it to, they don't have the oil running out on the ground," Conlin said. In fact, the problems caused by the recent record winter actually played into Conlin's hand somewhat, he said.
"Not that I wanted it to slow down, but it actually slowed down at the right time for me," he said with a laugh. "I was just getting set up in the last six months."
Conlin said he expects Pro Tank to be an immediate competitor in the tank sales business, especially since Minot is a central location for the Bakken and the emerging Three Forks plays.
"A lot of these tanks come in now from Fargo or Billings even as far as Kansas," he said. "By building them here locally, we'll be able to be competitive because we won't have that expensive trucking. We'll still bring in the steel, but it's a lot cheaper to bring a load of steel than it is to bring two tanks at a time. I can bring in eight tanks on a truckload of steel."
Conlin said he currently has three welders working in the shop.
"I hope to build more (tanks than currently)," he said. "If I can get this crew up to speed, I hope to double that."
Eventually, Conlin said he will need a bigger building and more people to keep up with the demand for tanks that he sees on the horizon.
"I envision that this area will use up to 2,000 tanks per year," Conlin said. "And I'd like to have a big chunk of that number.
"There's a lot of potential in this area."