An aerial view of the Great Plains Synfuels Plant, with Antelope Valley Station in the background. The facility, which opened in 1984, is located five miles northwest of Beulah.
Will Consider Projects Immediately
The newly-created Clean Sustainable Energy Authority held its initial meeting this week and expects to start looking at grant and loan requests for projects immediately.
Lt. Governor Brent Sanford, who chairs the authority and is a voting member, said he expects the CSEA will begin considering applications in September, with grants or loans awarded by the end of the year. Sanford's expectation is likely to be realized based on remarks from Commerce Commissioner James Lieman during Thursday's meeting.
Lieman said through contacts he's made with interested companies, the department is aware of "about a dozen projects" that may come before the CSEA in the next month or two. He said most will be relatively small requests, but a few may be quite large.
Click here to listen to Lieman's comments.
Leiman said his team at Commerce and other state agencies "are literally working about $15 billion of clean- and value-added energy projects ... and the authority will be critical in terms of helping us get some of these projects over the finish line."
The authority was established by the 2021 Legislature's passage of HB 1452. The legislation included a direct $25 million appropriation for the authority, as well as a $250 million line of credit through the Bank of North Dakota. Sanford said it's possible the funding could be consumed quickly because the CSEA will likely be asked to consider financial support for energy projects that require multi-billion dollar investments. He noted that HB 1380, the so-call streams bill which contemplated use of future earnings from the Legacy Fund, mentioned the Clean Sustainable Energy Authority but did not direct any funding toward it. Sanford said if the authority can support successful projects, Legacy Fund earnings could become a future source of funding for large-scale energy projects.
Click here to listen to Sanford's comments.
The next step for the authority will be the responsibility of its non-voting technical advisors, who are being tasked with establishing guidelines for considering grant or loan applications. That work is targeted for completion in time to be considered at the September 27 meeting of the ND Industrial Commission. The NDIC will have final authority regarding any loans or grants recommended for approval by the CSEA.
Unlike the grant programs of existing state energy research councils, the primary focus of the authority will be funding projects that are ready or nearly ready for commercialization, with emphasis on those that reduce emissions associated with energy production.
Company Plans to Acquire Synfuels Plant
Bakken Energy announced this week it has reached agreement with Basin Electric Power Cooperative on key terms and conditions to purchase the assets of the Dakota Gasification Company, including the Great Plains Synfuels Plant near Beulah.
The closing is subject to the satisfaction of specified conditions and is expected to be completed by April 1, 2023. Plans call for transforming the synfuels plant into the largest and lowest-cost, clean hydrogen production facility in the United States. Earlier this year, Bakken and Mitsubishi Power Americas announced they had formed a strategic partnership to create a world-class clean hydrogen hub in North Dakota to produce, store, transport, and locally capture and sequester carbon dioxide. The synfuels plant will become the center of a clean energy hub designed to advance decarbonization objectives through clean hydrogen applications for the agriculture, power and transportation sectors.
New clean hydrogen production facilities generally require up to 10 years to begin producing hydrogen and develop regional infrastructure, but redevelopment of the synfuels plant will cut the time in half. The North Dakota Hydrogen Hub is expected to be commercially operational in late 2026 with a redevelopment budget that exceeds $2 billion. The facility will produce an estimated 310,000 metric tons of clean hydrogen per year. It will be equipped to capture and sequester CO2 emissions and store hydrogen on site.
“Today is the dawning of the hydrogen economy in the United States,” said Bakken Energy Chairman and Founder Steve Lebow. “Rapidly establishing the viability of low-cost clean hydrogen supply to meet the acceleration of clean hydrogen demand is critical to developing our nation’s hydrogen economy.”
"We greatly appreciate Paul Sukut, CEO and General Manager of Basin Electric and his team, as well as the staff of Basin Electric and the Dakota Gasification Company for their hard work in charting the best possible path forward for the plant," Lebow continued. "We are excited to work with the communities that depend on the sustained and growing employment our shared successes will provide. Our vision is that the Synfuels Plant will continue its historic role as a hub of innovation and pioneering spirit for the great benefit of generations to come.”
“The announcement today represents the hard work of committed individuals at Basin Electric, DGC, Bakken Energy, and Mitsubishi Power,” Sukut said. “Our commitment is to get this right and choose the best option for our employees, our members, and area communities.”
An internal document released by Basin Electric indicated that DGC, along with Basin support staff, would continue to operate the coal gasification process until 2026 when the plant is repurposed. At that time synfuels plant employees would have the opportunity to support the commissioning and operation of the new hydrogen facility.
Challenge Interior's Federal Leasing Pause
The American Petroleum Institute and 11 other energy industry trade groups filed a lawsuit this week challenging the Department of Interior’s indefinite pause on oil and natural gas leasing on federal lands and waters.
“With the indefinite pause on federal oil and gas leasing, the department failed to satisfy procedural requirements and ignored congressional mandates for holding lease sales,” API Senior Vice President and Chief Legal Officer Paul Afonso said. “The law is clear: the department must hold lease sales and provide a justification for significant policy changes. They have yet to meet these requirements."
The suit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana, points out that federal leasing laws prohibit an indefinite pause on lease sales onshore and offshore. It says the Interior Department's move to stop holding leases sales is inconsistent with Congress’ intent and circumvents congressional mandates through administrative action.
The Mineral Leasing Act specifically requires quarterly onshore lease sales. Under the Administrative Procedure Act, an executive agency is required to provide a record of support and explanation for a change in policy. An agency must also provide an opportunity for public comment when it implements new rules. Interior did not meet either requirement.
The ND Petroleum Council is among the other organizations that joined the suit as co-plaintiffs. Click here to read the lawsuit.
Beaudreau Urged to End Moratorium
Deputy Secretary of the Interior Tommy Beaudreau was urged to end the Biden administration’s moratorium on new federal oil and gas leases during a visit to North Dakota this week.
Beaudreau, who was invited to the state by Senator John Hoeven, participated in a roundtable with Hoeven, Senator Kevin Cramer and several energy industry leaders at Bismarck State College. The senators said Beaudreau's trip to North Dakota provided an opportunity to learn more about the challenges faced by the state’s energy industry and opportunities to ensure the U.S. remains energy independent.
“North Dakota has grown into a global energy powerhouse, supporting our nation’s energy independence while also providing good-paying jobs and a stronger economy,” Hoeven said. “The Biden administration has taken us in the wrong direction on energy. It makes no sense to increase our reliance on less stable parts of the world, when we should be harnessing our abundant energy resources here at home with better environmental stewardship."
Senator Cramer also delivered harsh remarks about the Biden administration’s energy policies during the event.
“It is hard to watch the chaos unfold in the Middle East and think President Biden’s energy plan is a good idea,” Cramer said. “By undermining American energy production and shifting our reliance to foreign adversaries in volatile parts of the world, he is putting our energy, economic, and national security at risk.
Click here to read the Bismarck Tribune's coverage of the meeting with Beaudreau.
Senators Call Decision "Astonishing"
Senators John Hoeven and Kevin Cramer signed a letter to Joe Biden this week urging Biden to reverse his decision to call on OPEC and its allies to increase oil production in response to rising gas prices.
Initiated by Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe and signed by 22 other Republican senators, the letter said it is "astonishing that your administration is now seeking assistance from an international oil cartel when America has sufficient domestic supply and reserves to increase output."
“We agree with your intent to reduce the cost of gas for hardworking Americans," the senators wrote, "but your domestic policy agenda has proven to have the opposite effect and continues to threaten American jobs and family budgets.”
Senator Cramer said the request for increased OPEC production is “another global energy failure by President Biden” and his “harmful actions are leaving the American people with less security, higher prices, and subject to our foreign competitors and adversaries.”
Click here to read the letter.
Feedstock Deal Supports Renewable Diesel Plant
Marathon Petroleum Corporation and ADM have agreed to form a joint venture for the production of soybean oil to supply renewable diesel fuel.
Under the terms of the agreement, the joint venture will own and operate ADM’s previously announced soybean processing complex in Spiritwood, with ADM owning 75 percent and MPC owning 25 percent. When complete in 2023, the Spiritwood facility will process local soybeans and supply the resulting soybean oil exclusively to MPC. The Spiritwood complex is expected to produce about 600 million pounds of refined soybean oil annually, enough feedstock for 75 million gallons of renewable diesel.
In addition to the Spiritwood venture, the companies are working together to explore opportunities for agriculture to support renewable transportation fuels.
“We already provide MPC with soybean oil for renewable diesel production, but this agreement will significantly expand our collaborative relationship." said Ken Campbell, ADM’s president of North America Oils, Biodiesel and Renewable Chemicals. "And what’s even more exciting is that we see the opportunity to work together to do more to support sustainable solutions.”
Campbell said be believes renewable diesel demand could reach 5 billion gallons per year by 2025.
“This joint venture marks another step in advancing our ability to optimize and source logistically advantaged feedstock for our nearby Dickinson facility," said Dave Heppner, MPC’s senior vice president of Strategy and Business Development.
When complete, the approximately $350 million complex in Spiritwood will feature state-of-the-art automation technology and have the capacity to process 150,000 bushels of soybeans per day. The construction of the new complex is supporting hundreds of jobs in the region, and the facility will employ approximately 75 people once operational. The Spiritwood complex is expected to begin production for the 2023 harvest.
No Deficiencies Identified by State Auditor
Accountants and others who handle the books for the ND Industrial Commission and the Department of Trust Lands are apparently doing a great job.
Both entities received clean audits for the past two-year period. Reports on audits of NDIC, the Land Department and more than two dozen other state agencies and programs were delivered to the Legislative Audit and Fiscal Review Committee yesterday.
The specific internal control testing completed included:
• Checking that the spreadsheet used by the Industrial Commission to calculate transfer amounts from entities were correct. The audit also checked that the authorized limit is not exceeding the allowed amount.
• Testing the accuracy of the Industrial Commission’s administrative services budget tracking spreadsheet by comparing revenues and expenditures to ConnectND Financial data.
• Ensuring employees had proper procurement officer certification training for the types of procurements conducted and tasks performed.
• Testing legislatively-restricted fund expenditures for proper approvals by appropriate individuals.
The NDIC audit covered its oversight of the Department of Mineral Resources, Pipeline and Transmission authorities, energy research programs and the Outdoor Heritage Fund. The LAFR committee heard separate audits of the State Mill and Elevator and the Bank of North Dakota.
The Land Department's audit, which contains much more detail than the NDIC audit, was performed by the accounting firm Eide Bailly. Assets of the department, which includes the Common Schools Trust Fund, totaled $6,165,096,555 as of June 30, 2020.
Gatherings in Back-to-Back Weeks in September
Registration is now open for the annual fall meetings of the ND Petroleum Council and the Lignite Energy Council.
NDPC members will meet at the Rough Rider Center in Watford City September 21-23, and LEC members will gather the following week, September 29-30 at the Bismarck Event Center.
Among the featured speakers at the NDPC meeting will be former Interior Secretary and Montana Congressman Ryan Zinke. Attendees will also hear remarks from Oasis Petroleum CEO Daniel Brown and MHA Nation Chairman Mark Fox.
Speakers have not been announced for the LEC meeting, but it will feature its traditional mine and plant updates, awards luncheon and CoalPAC breakfast.
Recognized for Noonan Mine Reclamation
The ND Public Service Commission’s Abandoned Mine Lands program is being recognized by the federal Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement for a reclamation project completed near Noonan in Divide County.
The award, the third which the PSC has received since 2016, is given annually to honor the highest quality projects across the nation to reclaim abandoned coal mines.
PSC Commissioner Randy Christmann, who holds the coal mining, reclamation and AML portfolios, said there are many abandoned mines in western North Dakota, which have riddled the landscape with underground tunnels. Christmann said the reclamation work fills the tunnels to prevent future collapses of roads, buildings, and other infrastructure.
North Dakota’s AML Program was recognized for work done as part of the 2020 Noonan Foamed Sand project. Christmann said PSC staff developed a foamed sand alternative which was used to fill underground mine voids instead of the traditional grout.
Click here to listen to Christmann's comments.
Christmann said the foam is designed to dissipate under pressure and over time will leave just the sand. He expects it will be used elsewhere and will allow the AML program to reclaim more sites.
Click here to listen to Christmann's comments.
Funding for the AML Program comes from a grant the PSC receives from the federal Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement. Grant funds come from a federal reclamation fee collected on each ton of mined coal.
Event Will Examine Needs, Gaps and Local Impact
The Greater North Dakota Chamber is planning to host a Transportation Forum to discuss the need for safe and reliable transportation networks, and the role they play in shaping the state's economy.
The forum will be held September 29 at the Ramkota Hotel and Convention Center in Bismarck. The day-long event will take a look at how transportation and associated policies play a role in all industries and the state's economics. National and regional experts will provide updates on trends and data impacting their organization, industry and the state.
The event kicks off with a keynote speech by Ed Mortimer, Vice President of Transportation Infrastructure for the US Chamber of Commerce. His remarks will be followed by presentations from the ND Association of Counties and the ND League of Cities regarding local infrastructure, and the need for adequate funding to build and maintain it.
Attendees will also hear from Denver Tolliver, director of the Upper Great Plains Transportation Institute, who will describe North Dakota's need for $24.6 billion over the next 20 years to maintain current roads and bridges. Also on the agenda are remarks from Kenneth Simonson, Chief Economist with the Associated General Contractors of America, who will describe North Dakota's current transportation funding stream and the importance of additional investments in construction.
The forum will conclude with another keynote speech from Bill Panos, director of the ND Department of Transportation, who will provide a look at the current state of North Dakota's transportation system and the NDDOT's vision for the future.
Click here for additional information or to register. There is a $60 fee for GNDC members and a $90 fee for non-members.
WDEA Annual Meeting in Williston
The Western Dakota Energy Association will hold its annual meeting October 13-14 at The ARC in Williston.
The in-person event will get underway at 1:00 Wednesday afternoon, and will begin with one of the event's favorite speakers. Rather than concluding the event, this year's annual meeting will begin with a presentation by Lynn Helms, director of the Department of Mineral Resources. Helms is scheduled to deliver his traditional county-by-county production forecast report at 1:15, following opening remarks by WDEA President Shannon Holter and Williston dignitaries.
Other elements of the agenda are still being developed, but will feature speakers who will provide updates on major energy-related happenings including the pending sale of Coal Creek Station, the development of a hydrogen industry, efforts to develop in-state TENORM disposal options, career and technical education plans, and the ongoing debate over school funding.
The meeting will feature a social, short program and entertainment Wednesday evening. The event concludes Thursday afternoon with election of the WDEA Executive Committee.
Board members up for election who are eligible to serve an additional three-year term include Bowman Mayor Lyn James, Williams County Commissioner David Montgomery, Washburn Superintendent Brad Rinas who represents the Coal Conversion Counties, and a new member will be chosen to represent education members to replace Dickinson Superintendent Shon Hocker, who resigned to accept a position in Idaho.
- Funding for clean energy projects could come by end of year -- Bismarck Tribune
- Basic Energy files Chapter 11, and more things to know in energy -- Williston Herald
- Oil patch shows signs of awakening despite flat oil production -- Tioga Tribune
- Editorial: Land Board’s filing shows the system works -- Bismarck Tribune
- Bakken Restart among energy priorities in infrastructure deal -- Williston Herald
- MDU fined by PSC for mis-marking underground facilities -- Prairie Public
- ND Legacy Fund in-state investment program launches website -- Bismarck Tribune
- Rural areas could lose power, cities could gain in redistricting process -- Bismarck Tribune
- North Dakota faces record drug deaths, 118 died in 2020 -- Bismarck Tribune
- Firefighters battle wildfire north of Glendive, took 2 days to extinguish -- Williston Herald
- Census 2020: Tioga’s population nearly doubles, now 2,202 -- Tioga Tribune
- 2020 census numbers show county population up more than 9,700 -- McLean County Independent
- First census gains in Burke and Divide County since 1930 -- Crosby Journal
- Dickinson Police department finalizes policy on body worn cameras -- Dickinson Press
- Ward County Commission seeks more review of 2nd Amendment ordinance -- Minot Daily News
- Leadership Williston's latest sessions talks politics, public works and projects -- Williston Herald
- Loop road construction in TR National Park should be complete in 2022 -- Prairie Public
- There is a shortage of quality, affordable childcare in North Dakota -- Prairie Public
- NDSU President issues indoor mask mandate for fall classes -- Valley News Live
- NDSU to give students who get COVID vaccine $100 -- Fargo Forum
- US Education Dept. approves ND plan for spending $305 million on schools -- KX News
- New staff members at Divide County schools are all locals -- Crosby Journal
- McKenzie County school board okays $29.7 million preliminary budget -- McKenzie County Farmer
- Underwood educators optimistic for start of 2021-22 school year -- KX News
- North Dakota K-12 student performance slipped in 2020-2021 school year -- KFGO Radio
- DOE awards $83 million in energy efficiency grants, NDSU among recipients -- Department of Energy
- OPEC+nations see no need to meet Biden's request for more supply -- Reuters
- Interior to resume leasing, but zero details on when, where and how -- Energy in Depth
- Biden's America Last energy policy, bowing to radicals, killing jobs -- Real Clear Energy
- Biden gears up for renewed fight against oil and gas industry -- Colorado Politics
- Biden administration to review climate impacts of federal coal leases -- Reuters
- Another round of anti-science from the IPCC, Power play by UN -- Manhattan Contrarian
- Climate change report brings a flood of hyperbole, misinformation -- Wall Street Journal
- Study finds sun, not CO2, may be the cause of global warming -- Epoch Times
- China cranks up carbon-intensive projects as "climate crisis" grows -- Reuters
- ESG fund managers must learn from the tech bubble — returns matter -- Financial Times
- Inventories are low, so will natural gas prices spike again this winter? -- American Experiment
Factoid of the Week
Source: Dakota Gasification Company
via Zoom platform
Bismarck Event Center
via Microsoft Teams
Bismarck Event Center
Bismarck Event Center
The ARC - Williston
Bismarck Event Center
Ramkota Hotel - Bismarck
August 20, 2021
WTI Crude: $62.32
Brent Crude: $65.18
Natural Gas: $3.85
North Dakota Active Oil Rigs: 25 (Up 2) 8/20/2020 -- 12 rigs