Berthold project blends ag and oilOpportunities in the oil patch are not just for workers with strong backs. Operators of the grain elevator at Berthold saw an opportunity to partner with a pipeline company to load 100-car trains of crude oil, piggybacking on their grain-shipping operations. When the new railroad “load out” begins operating in January, the elevator’s net revenue should double.
By: The Bismarck Tribune, The Jamestown Sun
Opportunities in the oil patch are not just for workers with strong backs. Operators of the grain elevator at Berthold saw an opportunity to partner with a pipeline company to load 100-car trains of crude oil, piggybacking on their grain-shipping operations. When the new railroad “load out” begins operating in January, the elevator’s net revenue should double.
The Berthold Farmers Elevator and Enbridge are taking advantage of each other’s strengths to create a profitable business partnership. It’s the kind of thinking that North Dakota needs as the production of crude oil ramps up in western North Dakota.
Construction workers are now expanding the BNSF Railway access at Berthold. Once that’s complete, elevator crews will be loading train cars not only with wheat, but also with crude oil. Enbridge, the largest pipeline company operating in the Williston Basin, has a terminal at Berthold. The elevator will be paid for every barrel of oil it loads into tanker cars.
That means jobs at the Berthold elevator and not just at harvest.
It also means a better price for North Dakota crude oil shipped beyond the existing pipeline bottlenecks.
The Berthold elevator is half farmer owned, meaning the oil-loading operation will put cash in farmers’ bank accounts. There’s a good chance that oil revenues could even out the typical economic peaks and valleys these farmers ride with changes in wheat prices. The other half belongs to Columbia Grain of Portland, Ore.
The partnership between the Berthold Farmers Elevator and Enbridge makes a good model for how agriculture and the oil industry can help each other. While not every elevator can be turned into a crude-oil shipping point, there are plenty of opportunities for partnerships and spin-off businesses involving farm and ranch families.
Often there’s been a need for North Dakota farmers and ranchers to do non-farm work to supplement their incomes, but there haven’t always been jobs when needed. That’s changing with the arrival of Bakken production. It gives farm families new options. And, certainly, it also creates challenges for them as well as they coexist with heavy truck traffic and oil work in their fields and pastures.
The people at the Berthold elevator found an opportunity, and now they are capitalizing on it. In Berthold, they’re looking to the future.