Crude Oil Transload Facility - Makoti, ND

Truck receiving and unit train loading with Canadian Pacific Railway access

VAA was a design partner in a collaborative team that included leaders from Thunder Butte Petroleum Services and EPC contractor Corval Group as well as representatives of the Canadian Pacific (CP) Railway. The 200-acre site is located on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation, home to the MHA Nation. The crude oil transload facility was a first for the tribe and required expertise in oil and gas industry regulation, master planning, industrial architecture, rail design, civil, structural, mechanical, electrical engineering and construction. This multi-phased project also required planning for a future refinery on site.

Our Approach

VAA contributed design and engineering expertise to the development of project criteria while keeping the owner informed about design recommendations, schedules and costs. VAA’s experience with rail delivery and pick-up was critical when coordinating with CP Railway on a 120 car-unit train rail system. Working collaboratively with long-time client, Corval Group, VAA quickly provided information to help the owner decide on right-fit and cost-effective design for current and future goals. Providing the same team of engineers and designers as on past Corval Group projects also supported immediate rapport and efficient decisions on issues such as fire suppression systems and piping design.

The crude oil transload facility includes two, 120,000-barrel crude oil storage tanks, a truck receiving area, rail loading, LACT system and pumping capabilities. The entire facility needed to be accessible 24 hours per day. Additional facilities included a receiving / loading office, mechanical and control room, facility office, maintenance shop and a warehouse. VAA’s civil engineering experience supported rail design, site development, road access, utility placement and stormwater treatment.


VAA’s experience with piping and pumping designs, process flow and equipment layout, utilities and site design allowed for efficient design reviews, decisions and project progress. Ultimately, the process assisted the owner in negotiations with CP Railway for train delivery and pick-up rates and schedules. Upon delivery of the construction documents, the scope of the project was re-evaluated by the client and has led to the potential for VAA to assist in additional work.