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Modules for oil sands drilling

Bay Ltd. shipped 29 modules to Canada last year. The Texas company is hiring again after landing a contract to ship equipment to the Canadian oil sands.

Bay Ltd., which has been supplying the Canadian oil sands with steel structures fabricated in Billings while also helping revitalize local manufacturing, has begun hiring workers after landing a major new contract.

Bill Parker, assistant vice president for Bay Ltd., said the contract calls for the company to construct 89 steel modules that will be used to develop Canadian oil sands.

Parker said Bay’s employment in Billings is likely to climb to between 300 and 400 by the end of summer. He also anticipates that the project will keep Bay Ltd. busy until the end of 2014.

Even more work could head to Billings if the company succeeds in landing another contract, he said.

McCord couldn’t disclose the name of the company for which Bay Ltd. is building the modules because the customer has insisted on anonymity.

Last year, Bay Ltd. ramped up its operations to fabricate 29 modules for use in the oil sands. Employment subsided after the contract was completed. At its peak, Bay Ltd. employed 279 people in Billings. All but 82 were from Montana, Parker said.

Ironworkers, pipefitters, fabricators and electricians are among the positions to be hired, Parker said.

The modules, sometimes described as refineries on wheels, hold piping, valves and other equipment used in refining crude oil produced from the Canadian oil sands.

The Billings-made modules are loaded on large flatbed trailers and trucked to Canada.

Bay Ltd., a construction, fabrication and maintenance contractor with operations in the U.S., Latin America, Canada and several other countries, purchased the former Holland loader manufacturing plant at 2450 S. 32nd St. W. in 2008. The facility features 82,000 square feet of covered space used for fabrication.

In preparation for the new work, the site is being enlarged to accommodate all of the equipment.

Bay Ltd.’s initial plans were delayed in the wake of the recession, but the company successfully completed its first contract last year and now has a track record that could lead to more business in the future.

Bay Ltd.’s Billings operation illustrates how regional energy development is spilling over into the Billings economy. Just as Billings is benefiting from fast-paced oil development in the booming Bakken oil play, it’s also tapping into tar sands development in Canada.

During a visit to the plant last summer, Bay Ltd. President Ken Luhan said the company’s efforts in Billings represent a new industry capable of competing in an international market.

Ryan Van Ballegooyen, manager of Billings Job Service, said jobs that Bay Ltd. has advertised include piping superintendent and construction manager.

All job listings are posted on the Billings Job Service website at http://wsd.dli.mt.gov/local/billings/, Van Ballegooyen said.

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