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Salt cavern study receives more funding from state

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An energy study to determine whether salt caverns could be used in North Dakota to store gas and liquids is getting more state money.

The three-member North Dakota Industrial Commission on Thursday approved additional funding of $986,200 from the Oil and Gas Research Fund. The fund gets a share of state oil and gas tax collections. The money is going to the University of North Dakota's Energy and Environmental Research Center, which is conducting the study.

Its purpose is to determine the feasibility of constructing underground salt caverns in western North Dakota for energy resource storage, including natural gas, hydrogen and hydrocarbons. A test well was drilled to obtain core samples from subsurface formations containing salt beds this past spring and early summer.

The original study estimate approved by the Industrial Commission in May was $9.5 million. That has risen to $12.9 million due to challenges faced while drilling, according to Commission Deputy Executive Director Reice Haase. 

The Oil and Gas Research Council voted in July to recommend the Industrial Commission reallocate $2.5 million from another study project to complete a core analysis -- collection of core samples of salt and surrounding rock zones, and testing those samples -- that's integral to the salt cavern study. The other study, which deals with underground gas storage, required only another $500,000 to complete. The Industrial Commission voted in August to approve the reallocation of those funds. 

The Industrial Commission is made up of the governor, agriculture commissioner and attorney general.

Reach Jackie Jahfetson at 701-250-8252 or jackie.jahfetson@bismarcktribune.com.

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