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Tesoro Logistics, Kris Wosepka
The Tesoro Logistics High Plains Pipeline and Trucking crew.

Oil Patch Professions: Crude oil transporting

Recently, Shale Plays Media sent over some Bakken apparel to the good folks of Tesoro High Plains Pipeline in Dickinson, North Dakota. They sent us some photos back of the crew and agreed to talk a little bit about the company and what they do in the oil production country of the Williston Basin.

Tesoro Logistics transports crude oil coming from ten counties in the oilfields of North Dakota. They have holdings in Watford City, Sidney, Tioga and Williston. Their main hub for the trucking division of transportation however, is located in Dickinson.

Kris Wosepka, a truck driving oil transporter for Tesoro Logistics, works out of the Dickinson hub. He started out in the oilfield after earning his CDL through the Sage truck driving school. Although his instructors encouraged him to take an “over the road” gig, where the job takes you hundreds of miles per haul, Kris said that “the Bakken was calling my name.”

My first Crude transport position was with a company out of Sydney, Mont. I was fortunate enough to have hauled high explosive munitions when I was in the Army, and the company I hired on with had an unusually high turnover rate, so they gave me a shot.  It was trial by fire.  After 3 days of training, I was on my own.  I had a whole 20 hours experience driving a truck, and I was running the rodeo they called the Bakken roads. The days were long, the roads were dangerous, and if you weren’t a little bit scared you were a little bit stupid.”

This initial engagement gave Kris the skill and confidence to land a place in what he calls the “crown jewel of the Bakken,” Tesoro Logistics.

While many other companies only indulge in transporting or refining, Tesoro Logistics has the upper-hand by taking part in several stages of crude production. Tesoro’s operations include purchasing, transporting and refining crude oil in Western North Dakota. “We’re like a one stop shop for crude,” Kris explained. The company owns and operates multiple stages of infrastructure that fills the gap between extraction and commercial use.

Once crude is put in various storage facilities around well sites, tanker trucks pick up the product and transfer the crude to pipelines operated by Tesoro. The petroleum is then pumped through the pipelines where it heads east to the Mandan refinery. Due to the growing boom of oil production, Tesoro also utilizes oil-by-rail to move the crude from the west to Mandan.

The final products fashioned include gasoline, diesel and jet fuel. The refinery can also produce heavy fuel oils and liquefied petroleum gas. Some products, like gasoline, end up in local or regional establishments while other products are shipped off nationally to buyers.

Related: Oil Patch Professions: Roustabouts

According to a Tesoro fact sheet, the Mandan refinery has a capacity of over 70,000 barrels per day, which is primarily sweet crude from the Williston Basin.

The refinery alone employees 250 full-time workers. Wosepka has been with Tesoro Logistics for around two years now and sees a bright future ahead. “It’s a great company with a great vision,” Kris said. “We’ll be around for a while.”

It was pleasant to hear from such a genuine, hardworking guy out in the boom. Kris told me that “the American dream is alive and well in the oilfields,” and for many, this is true. Many times our media consciousness is flooded with negativity and social problems from the area, but for a huge chunk of folks, lives are being changed for the better.

In just under 3 years since making the move from Western Montana, my wife and I have purchased a home in Dickinson and started a family. There are days when we miss the mountains, and our friends and family, but it doesn’t take long to remember it’s a lot like poverty with a view.  I am proud to be able to provide a nice life for my family, and very appreciative to Tesoro Logistics for the opportunity.  They are truly top notch.”

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