Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Separating Fact From Fiction

<$BlogMetaData$>Chapter One

Separating fact from fiction,

I’m going to do something different with this column. I am going to run several (more than one) chapters reviewing my thoughts about why this itch that you can’t scratch is never going to come about and further disrupt the lives of the people in this area. I will fervently try to be comprehensive (maybe a little disjointed) about this because my mind tends to wander (old age) when I get the fingers tapping on the keyboard. It is kind of like I started carrying out the garbage, but by the time I get outside I’m mowing the lawn and the garbage is still sitting in the garage.

It has been over 4 years since we first heard the name ‘Gorilla’ and wondered what the heck was going on around here. let’s take a look at what has been happening and then you can be reassured that not only is the refinery never going to happen, it was never intended to happen. That last statement might set some of you to wondering what I’m talking about, but if you stop and think about it, the logistics of this whole façade points overwhelmingly to a dream scheme that somebody with too much money on their hands decided would test the waters to see if they could pull enough ‘oil’ money into this deal to make it actually happen.

I’ll be the first to admit that there are so many stories going around that it is hard to separate fact from fiction. The fact is that a project of this magnitude is far beyond the capabilities of a company from Dallas, Texas called Hyperion Resources. Hyperion Resources is a real estate investment company. They dabble in real estate ventures in the Dallas Texas vicinity. Granted the CEO’s wife is from one of the biggest oil families in the world. The fiction is that they actually think we believe they can do it.

It would take 10 years at the minimum just to draw up the plans for the biggest oil refinery in the United States in 35 years, and that is putting it mildly. I can speak from experience. When I was in the service, I worked on a project for the Air Force to put 747 aircraft into service to replace an aging fleet of airplanes in the airborne command post. I spent the better part of 4 years going back and forth to Seattle Washington helping to design and test just the communications portion of the system. We spent months just talking and researching the best companies in the world to provide us with equipment to enable us to provide the ‘state of the art’ communications platform for the world wide airborne command post. Each component had to interface with our design concept. Granted this was just a 747 but then compare this to the planning that has to go into building an oil refinery covering almost 4,000 acres with ‘state of the art’, ‘never been done before’, ‘green refinery’ that will be refining the dirtiest oil in the world under the most difficult conditions to generate 400,000 barrels of oil and gasoline products each day 24/7 365 for people to consume. To say that this is a $10 Billion dollar undertaking is an understatement. To say that this is reaching an unreachable star is more like it.

Do you think any banking institution in their right mind is going to lend money without an absolute concrete plan how this is going to work? this proposal would take hundreds if not thousands of people researching and planning every angle, down to the size of the nuts and bolts, on how this is going to happen so they can present to the lending institution and/or investors how this is going to come off. Do you know any people that would be willing to risk millions of dollars into a venture with absolutely NO return on their investment for at least 10-15 years? I don’t.

It will take a lot of engineers a lot of time to pull this off, and Hyperion was just in the talking stages. Everything was ‘hush-hush’, that is why they came up with the ‘Gorilla’ project. They come up with this harebrained idea and come up to Dakota Dunes and play a little golf with the governor and says ‘hey guv… I’m an oilman from Texas and I want to build an oil refinery in South Dakota, what da ya think? The governor is all for it and the Texas guy chokes and says to himself. ‘I’ve got me a live one.’ The governor thinks this will be his legacy to his time in the big house in Pierre; thinks this is the answer to his prayers and jumps. He forgot one thing; not everybody is gung ho about this deal, but Hyperion starts taking out land options and promising people the moon and who could resist? Initially they had over 30,000 acres under option as they worked to get contiguous land that would be big enough to hold a ‘refinery’.

One of the first things they had to do was convince influential people in Union County this was going to happen and to work out arrangements to zone the land (Hyperion wrote its own zoning ordinance) so they didn’t have any problems when it came down to the final act. Getting the p&z to go along was a piece of cake ($$). The opposition to the refinery presented hours of expert and convincing arguments as to why this should not be built here. After more than 5 hours of public testimony, it took the p&z less than 2 minutes to approve the application. (Did they go back and talk to each other discussing the pros and cons of what just happened?) They slam dunked this thing faster than they could get the words out of their mouth. Somebody greased the skids. ($$) To be continued:


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