President Trump will be making his remarks on tax reform Wednesday in the shadow of a large oil refinery owned by the company Andeavor, which recently went from being the fifth to the fourth largest refiner in the nation.
"They wanted a red state with an energy/industrial backdrop and an incumbent D[emocrat] senator in a potentially tight race next year," said Stephen Brown, head of federal affairs for Andeavor in an email to the Washington Examiner. "Our facility checks all those boxes."
The White House approached Andeavor about using the refinery for the speech last Thursday, and "of course it is always an honor to host the President of the US," Brown said.
The incumbent Democrat is Sen. Heidi Heitkamp who faces a tough re-election fight next year. Heitkamp was considered for a Cabinet post early on in the Trump transition. She has challenged former President Barack Obama's climate change rules that she said treated energy producing states like her own unfairly.
The company recently renamed itself after a string of refinery acquisitions that changed it from former San Antonio-based Tesoro Corp. to Andeavor. Trump will make his remarks at the company's Mandan Refinery that began operations in 1954 and processes primarily sweet, low sulfur domestic crude oil from North Dakota's shale oil fields.
Mandan manufactures gasoline, diesel fuel, jet fuel, heavy fuel oils and liquefied petroleum gas, which are shipped east via pipeline to supply the Jamestown area, eastern North Dakota and Minnesota.
"The Mandan refinery has been operating since 1954, today has a capacity of [74,000 barrels per day] and process light sweet from the Bakken [shale oil field] in North Dakota," said Brown.
The refinery is critical to the company's mid-continent operations, and with the recent acquisition of a refinery in St. Paul, Minn., Andeavor's mid-continent "footprint becomes further integrated," said Brown. "All told, our total capacity is approximately 1.2 million [barrels per day] making us [the] fourth largest refiner nationwide."
Brown said that the primary purpose of Trump's visit will be to discuss tax reform. "I would not read anything into his coming to our facility beyond him wanting to push hard for tax reform," he said.
"We are not trying to project any one specific thing but always happy to showcase one of our premier refineries to the rest of the nation," Brown said. "Issues we care about are the same as most other manufacturers -- a low corporate rate that encourages investment and helps us grow jobs here in the US."
Also, with the Border Adjustment Tax, or BAT, "off the table, we are ready to engage in the deal-making process that is inherent to tax reform and look forward to working with this White House and Congress to get something good for American businesses across the finish line." The BAT would have imposed a tax on the shipment of oil across borders.