Wolf Point Herald

Montola Plant Near Culbertson Will Become Oilfield Brine Treating Facility


The Montola oilseed crushing plant in Culbertson will soon be used to process oilfield brine and produce potable water.
(Photo by Angela Rose Benson)

An additional speaker was added to the Froid Research Farm Field Day Thursday, June 25, to discuss Sionix Oilfield Services’ recent purchase of the former Montola oilseed crushing facility east of Cul-
According to Dr. Rex E. Crick, president of Sionix Oilfield Services and professor of geology at the University of Texas for some 30 years, equipment has been arriving this week to the location, where in 30 days there will be an up-and-running oilfield brine treating facility that can also operate as a water treatment plant, able to produce drinkable and potable water.
“Whether we like it or not, within the next 10 years this area will look like another Williston,” Crick said.
The 55-acre site will serve the Bakken fields of Montana and North Dakota and is situated with convenient highway access where U.S. Hwy. 2 and Montana Hwy. 16 meet. The site includes heated tank storage, enclosed process and laboratory buildings, on-site water wells, tank flushing and extra truck parking. Once up and running, the facility will be capable of storing two-and-a-half million gallons.
Crick spent time explaining how SOS uses patented dissolved air flotation technology in combination with pH control, chemistry, filtration and processes to recycle both flow-back brines from fracking as well as produced and maintenance brines from existing wells.
“We’ll be on the ground floor of this when the oil comes this way,” he said.
Water is treated to customer specifications for “enhanced heavy brine for drilling or can be treated water suitable for reuse in fracking,” according to the company’s website. Both products will be available either heated or at ambient temperatures.
Explaining that 85 percent of the cost of water is associated with the cost of trucking it, Crick said oil companies will save on fuel and travel costs because SOS can clean the trucks in as little as 10 minutes and send them on their way reloaded, rather than empty.
Trucks delivering brine to SOS will be off-loaded, cleaned, filled with treated, heated brine to the customer’s specification and returned to the well site. This process also negates the need for permanent oilfield production into deep saltwater disposed wells.
“Our customers will have a lower total water cost and have the environmental benefits of reclaiming, reusing and recycling their brine to conserve the Bakken’s limited fresh water resource,” Crick explained.
Mayor Gordon Oelkers said during a May 2014 Culbertson City Council meeting that Sionix would employ between five and 20 employees in Culbertson.
He said at the time that Sionix would reclaim frack water and production water at the site and sell it back as heavy frack water.
Sionix is a Houston, Texas-headquartered company that designs mobile water treatment systems for use in oil and gas fracking, housing developments and commercial projects.

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School Board Approves Co-op Sports Agreement With Frazer

The Wolf Point School board approved a high school athletic co-op agreement with Frazer High School for football and volleyball Thursday, June 25.
The agreement will allow Frazer students to play as Wolf Point Wolves during the 2015-2016 school year.
Frazer students participating will be required to follow Wolf Point’s rules for eligibility to play.
School board vice chairman Brandon Babb said each school should have its own requirements for eligibility.
Board member Corey Reum said Frazer students participating should be required to follow Wolf Point’s rules.
The board called activities director and head football coach Brett Scott who confirmed that Frazer students would have to follow Wolf Point rules for eligibility.
Under the agreement, Frazer will pay one-half of the stipend Scott receives as head coach, one- half of bus transportation costs at $2 per mile and the cost of one assistant coach.
For junior high athletics, Frazer will pay one half of coaching and transportation costs.
In other business, the board gave final approval to a contract with incoming district superintendent Gary Scott. It is a one-year contract with a salary of $82,640.
The board also ratified the collective bargaining contract with the Wolf Point Educational Support Staff Association that includes a 25 cent per hour raise on the base.
The trustees tabled ratification of the contract with the Wolf Point Education Association [teacher’s union] because WPEA president Patricia Toavs had not had time to review the language in the contract.
Members of both unions have voted to approve tentative agreements that came after four months of negotiations that stalled over health insurance and proposed raises for some long-term employees.
In another matter, the trustees voted to offer non-union full-time classified staff the opportunity to participate in group health insurance. The amount paid by the district for each employee will not exceed $662 per month.
In other business, the board approved the following hirings pending successful background checks: Abigail Kaylor and Darryl Ricker Sr., Southside School teachers; August Spotted Wolf and Claine Raining Bird, assistant custodians; and Dalton Hafner, summer grounds maintenance.
The board was informed of the resignation of high school/junior high librarian Pamela Murawski.

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County Dog Ordinance Progresses Slightly

A vicious dog ordinance moved a step further to eventual enactment with the Roosevelt County Commissioners asking Assistant County Attorney Jordan Knudsen to look at three state laws and determine if they could be incorporated into a dog ordinance during the weekly commission meeting Tuesday, June 30.
The Roosevelt County Attorney requested the ordinance after several people asked for stricter laws addressing vicious dogs.
The ordinance would impose penalties of $250 for first offenses for owners of dogs that bite and break skin. Second offenses would carry a $500 fine.
Vicki Bell, director of the Roosevelt County Health Department, told the commissioners the ordinance is well written but requested that it address public health issues associated with biting dogs.
Bell said she would like to see language included in a county ordinance that would require isolation of biting animals. She also said she wants biting dogs quarantined for 10 days because of risks of rabies and would like euthanasia sooner than 10 days permitted with dogs showing signs of being sick.
“I know we’re making a lot of people angry,” Bell said, but added that the action is necessary.
Bell presented copies of three state laws she hopes would be incorporated into an ordinance.
Two existing state laws address rabies exposure and mandate that local health departments investigate reports of rabies exposure and gather information about the person exposed, quarantine animals for 10 days with a requirement for evaluation of signs of illness.
Another law requires that dogs and cats being transported from other states be vaccinated against rabies and be free from evidence of infectious, contagious, communicable or parasitic disease.
Bell said she wants to meet with officials of Fort Peck Tribes and would like to see an agreement with the tribes following Montana law with dog regulations.
“If they don’t, it’s putting everything back on us,” she said.
“That’s a whole other issue trying to do a M.O.A. [memorandum of understanding] with the tribes. Right now, we want to do a vicious dog ordinance,” commission presiding officer Duane Nygaard said.
Commissioner Gary Macdonald said Knudsen should look at the three state laws and determine what action the commissioners should take.
“If there is no rabies, I still want to prosecute for vicious dogs,” Knudsen said.
The Fort Peck Tribes Executive Board approved a resolution May 26 to restrict ownership of dogs classified as dangerous breeds, specifically pit bulls, wolf hybrids and rottweilers on the Fort Peck Reservation, but it only applies to enrolled tribal members.

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Smoke Is In The Air, Blown South From Canadian Fires

Thick smoke blanketing the air across northeast Montana with a heavy haze and noticeable stench is coming from more than 200 wildfires burning hundreds of miles north of the Canadian border that high-altitude winds have blown across much of the central United States.
Smoke is reported across more than 1,600 miles that includes Montana, the Dakotas, Minnesota and several other states as far south as Oklahoma and Arkansas and as far east as Illinois.
Haze and a smoke smell became prevalent in Wolf Point Monday, June 29.
The National Weather Service in Glasgow issued a Dense Smoke Advisory Monday, June 29, with visibilities reported as low as three quarters of a mile at stations that have observing equipment and a quarter mile in some places.
“As far as I can recall, this is the first time we have ever issued a Dense Smoke Advisory in northeast Montana,” Glasgow National Weather Service warning coordination meteorologist Tanja Fransen said.
She said her office has had a lot of calls about the smoke.
Fransen said air quality at eastern Montana stations in Malta and near Sidney is reported as “hazardous.”
“This is the first time in 14 and a half years here that I have ever seen it at hazardous,” she said.
According to online reports from Canadian media, lightning strikes sparked about 40 wildfires in forests in northern Saskatchewan, bringing the total fires in that province to 113. Other fires are burning in Alberta, Manitoba and the Northwest Territories. More than 1,000 Canadians have been evacuated.
Fransen said the fire source region is in the Boreal Forest in Northern Saskatchewan, Alberta and Northwest Territories.
There were multiple fires burning, with substantial acreage burned as of Monday, June 29. Reports put charred forested land at 148,000 acres or 231 square miles.
Fransen said Tuesday morning that a cold front was expected with fairly strong from the northwest, which she said could help.
“But, with that amount of fire to our north, we can shift back into a pattern that could bring the smoke back into the region. We are not out of the woods yet,” Fransen said.
Predictions are that the fires might continue for awhile due to dry conditions in northern Canada.
Health precautions include staying indoors an air conditioned building with windows closed. N95 masks are recommended for people who have to be outside. Cloth painting masks are not going to help.

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Commissioners Approve RMC Meals Delivery, Fairgrounds Hydrant

The Roosevelt County Commissioners approved a renewal of a contract with Roosevelt Medical Center on Tuesday, June 30, for the purchase and delivery of 700 daily Meals On Wheels meals in the Culbertson area at a cost of $7.30 per meal and $2 delivery.
The approval came one week after the commissioners approved a contract with Northeast Montana Health Services for the purchase and delivery of 2,000 Meals On Wheels meals in Wolf Point and 100 in Poplar at $12 per meal and $2.50 for each delivery.
In other business, a woman from Culbertson who said she is a volunteer for the fair board asked the commissioners for help to stop what she called slander posted on Facebook against her related to her duties as a fair volunteer. She said she has volunteered for the fair for almost 50 years.
No action was taken.
In another matter, the commissioners voted to move a fire hydrant at the fairgrounds in Culbertson into the parking lot at county expense because it is a safety issue.
The commissioners also established the courthouse in Wolf Point and the county building in Culbertson as locations for posting public notices.

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