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Two projects bode well for North Dakota

Dakota Prairie Refining

The Andeavor Dickinson Refinery is located 4 miles west of Dickinson. 

Two North Dakota plants plan changes, one wants to expand and the other wants to produce a new product. Both proposals are good news for the state.

Oasis Midstream plans to expand its Wild Basin Gas Plant in McKenzie County. If the company gets approval for expansion the plant would become the largest natural gas processing complex in the state. While North Dakota has been working to reduce the amount of natural gas flared there was still 10.4 percent of natural gas flared in April.

The state produced about 1.8 billion cubic feet per day of natural gas in April, which was an all-time high for North Dakota. The plant, located 6 miles northeast of Watford City, processes 80 million cubic feet per day. If the expansion is approved, Oasis plans to build a complex next to the existing plant that would create an additional processing capacity of 265 million cubic feet per day, for a total of 345 million cubic feet per day. The Tioga gas plant operated by the Hess Corp. processes up to 250 million cubic feet per day.

While activity in the oil patch has slowed down there is still a lot of natural gas being flared. That’s money that doesn’t go to the royalty owners. Many people also are concerned about the environmental impact of flaring.

The state and the oil industry have been working to reduce flaring and have made progress. Justin Kringstad, director of the North Dakota Pipeline Authority, pointed out to Tribune reporter Amy Dalrymple that projects like Midstream’s are necessary for the continued reduction of flaring.

The North Dakota Public Service Commission will hold a public hearing on the proposal at 9 a.m. today in Watford City. If the commission approves the expansion, work on the $140 million project could begin this year.

The other plant planning changes is the Tesoro refinery in Dickinson. The company wants to retrofit an 8,000-barrel-per-day diesel hydrotreater to process soy or distillers corn oil into renewable diesel to go with its Bakken crude oil processing operation. Tribune reporter Jessica Holdman explained that the $3.5 million project would use 16,800 gallons per day of vegetable oils to create a 5 percent renewable diesel mix to be marketed in North Dakota by the end of the year. Tesoro got a $500,000 grant from the North Dakota Industrial Commission to help cover the project's cost.

"Compared to biodiesel that is blended into petroleum diesel at truck racks, renewable diesel is a superior quality product because, unlike biodiesel, renewable diesel is a pure hydrocarbon stream containing no oxygen," Tesoro said in its grant application to the Industrial Commission. The company said this produces a high-quality fuel that maintains vehicle performance.

Construction could begin in October with production underway in December or early 2018.

One of the benefits of the project is the additional market it creates for regional oil seed processing facilities. North Dakota processing plants will be likely sources for the oil seed.

Both the natural gas plant expansion and the Tesoro project offer long-term benefits for the state. One reduces the waste of natural gas and the other provides a market for products and results in a quality fuel. These are the kind of projects that North Dakota needs.


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