By Ron VandenBoom
A gargantuan 250,000 pound compressor passed through the Port of Wild Horse Tuesday, Nov. 30, on a round-about trek to its new home at a natural gas pumping station being constructed about 3.5 miles northwest of Chinook.
The 2,300 horsepower compressor is part of a $5 million 16-mile long, 10-inch wide, pipeline project that, according to John Skoyen, construction and pipeline supervisor for Havre Pipeline, will transport 15 million cubic feet of natural gas a day through the line.
The 15 million cubic feet will be added to the already existing 60 million cubic feet currently taken from natural gas wells in northern Hill and Blaine counties and increase the total capacity of current pipeline system by 20 percent.
Alme Construction out of Cut Bank is in charge of pipeline construction and Patrick Construction of Havre has been contracted to construct the buildings at the north Chinook location.
Skoyen said the compressor and the building that will house it were constructed in Canada and transported as a prefabricated unit to the Chinook site. The cement foundation for the unit was also prefabricated and moved into position.
Skoyen also noted that the compressor was too large to be lifted by cranes and that techniques similar to those used to move homes were used to jack the compressor up and slide it into position.
He noted that the building that will house the compressor will be 24 feet wide, but he wasn't sure how long the building was to be.
"This is one of the larger projects for this area, yes," Skoyen said, when asked whether the pipeline project should be considered large for this area.
A dehydrating system will also be installed at the site, Skoyen said, to remove moisture from the gas and make a consumer usable product.
Skoyen estimated that 70 employees are currently working on the construction phase of the project.
As much as 50 percent of the gas transported by the new line will come from new wells operated by Klabzuba Oil and Gas or by J. Burns Brown Operating Company.
Blaine County Commissioner Art Kleinjan is excited by the new construction that he says will certainly add to the tax base of the county.
"I feel good about the project and am excited by the prospect of what it could do for the county," Kleinjan said.
The state has yet to place a value on the pumping station, so Kleinjan couldn't say how much revenue the county can expect to receive from the project. The uncertainty of the project's value, though, hasn't dampened the commissioner's enthusiasm for the project.
So far, the county has added gravel to several miles of road leading to the site and installed one additional cattle guard to help support traffic flow to and from the construction.