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Basin Electric Power Cooperative cites competition with Bakken oil and gas production as the main source for its financial woes at its Dakota Gasification Co. Great Plains Synfuels Plant, an issue that could only get worse.

Natural gas already has low to no value in the state, said Justin Kringstad of the North Dakota Pipeline Authority.

“Where the value challenge comes in is North Dakota competes with Canada to get on the Northern Border Pipeline,” he said, a competition that is likely to intensify in coming years.

The current split on the pipeline is about 50/50 between North Dakota and Canada natural gas, Kringstad said, but by the mid-2020s, as more North Dakota natural gas is captured rather than flared, North Dakota production could be enough to take up the full capacity.

Natural gas production increased 7.4 percent in April, setting another record at more than 2.24 billion cubic feet per day. And even more was being flared still.

Kringstad said producers already discount North Dakota’s natural gas to compete with Canada. They could lower the price even more as they vye for pipeline space.

Basin uses Northern Border, too, to transport synthetic natural gas from DGC, according to spokesman Curt Pearson. The company has contracts reserving their space. Pearson wasn’t sure of the time remaining on the contracts but it could eventually mean DGC is ousted from its method of transport in addition to competing with lower prices.

Kringstad said it costs between 75 cents and $1 per million British Thermal Units for gathering and processing of natural gas in the state. Pearson wouldn’t say how much it costs DGC to make its natural gas but said it’s safe to assume it’s more expensive.

“Basin will likely face more pressure in the future, not less,” Pearson said.

Reach Jessica Holdman at 701-250-8261 or jessica.holdman@bismarcktribune.com

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Business Reporter