Dakota Prairie Refinery’s 3-year planning-to-completion timeline seems aggressive indeed, compared with the other two diesel-oriented refineries aimed at quenching the Bakken’s 53,000-barrel-per-day thirst for diesel.

Dakota Oil Processing’s Trenton Diesel Refinery was proposed seven years ago and received an air-quality permit from the North Dakota Department of Health in February 2012. In North Dakota, this permit is usually the final step required before construction can begin. The 20,000-barrel-a-day refinery is projected to produce 4,717 barrels a day of diesel. But Dakota Oil Processing has not completed financing for the $200 million project. Trenton is just east of the Montana border between Sidney and Williston, N.D.

Dakota Oil Processing approached the state Legislature in the session that ended early this month, in an attempt to get North Dakota to back bonds for its construction. But industry officials say once legislators saw the Calumet-MDU project get financed and off the ground so quickly, they backed off support for Dakota Oil’s bonds.

Thunder Butte Petroleum Services Inc. broke ground early this month on its MHA Nation Clean Fuels Refinery, another 20,000-barrel-a-day crude-processing facility near Makoti, N.D., on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation. The $400 million project would be built in two phases. The first phase, to be started in August, would be a truck-to-rail crude-oil transloading facility that later would serve the refinery. Construction of the oil-processing facility could start next year, but Thunder Butte, a tribal company comprised of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara, known as the MHA Nation, also has had difficulty finalizing financing. The Thunder Butte project first was proposed over a decade ago.

Because the Thunder Butte refinery is on an Indian reservation, permitting would be conducted through the federal Environmental Protection Agency. In Thunder Butte’s case, an EPA honor system of sorts came into play. “There is no regulation for ‘true minor’ sources in Indian Country to obtain an air permit,” said Lisa McClain-Vanderpool, public affairs specialist at the EPA Region 8 office in Denver. “The information the tribe submitted indicated they considered themselves a ‘true minor’ source for criteria pollutants. … Without a permit application, the (EPA) air program does not ‘approve or disapprove’ construction.”

Jim Semerad of the North Dakota Division of Air Quality said both the Dakota Prairie and Trenton Diesel refineries are considered “minor sources” of pollutants by North Dakota rules, so no hearings were required and, at least in Dakota Prairie’s case, no comments were submitted to the division in regard to its permit. But the state does require — and issued — permits for both.

Reach Tribune Staff Writer Marc Stergionis at 406-791-6585 or mstergionis@greatfallstrib une.com.



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