Energy update: Northwest Florida
An oil boom in North Dakota is paying dividends for the small Escambia County town of Walnut Hill. Houston energy company Genesis Energy is building an oil transfer station in Escambia to store oil before transferring it west by pipeline to refineries.
“There’s a large amount of oil being produced in North Dakota that they can’t get to the Gulf Coast area, where the largest refineries are,’’ says Neal Bjorklund, Genesis project manager.
The Genesis project is creating 15 to 20 construction jobs and will mean 20 to 30 permanent jobs in Escambia. Some 800 people showed up to apply at a June job fair. Genesis Rail Services, a subsidiary, is spending between $13 million and $20 million to build a 100,000-barrel storage tank and offices and install pumping equipment.
The Walnut Hill Transfer Station links an Alabama Gulf Coast Railway site and a pipeline that have intersected for decades but never before connected. Genesis bought the 16-inch pipeline, dating from the more productive days of the Jay oil fields to the east, from Exxon in 1995. It runs directly to a refinery at Saraland north of Mobile, Ala. Genesis has additional connections from Mississippi to Texas refineries.
The oil will travel cross country from North Dakota via the BNSF rail line. According to Genesis’ timetable, the July startup of one or two trains per week could grow to five per week once the station is in full operation by Jan. 1.