Original story can be found at the Williston Herald website.
By Alan Reed
Published/Last Modified on Tuesday, September 22, 2009 11:10 AM CDT
$457,000 federal Energy Department grant to study the feasibility of a
new oil refinery in North Dakota doesn't slow down plans already in the
works for a 100,000 barrel-per-day plant proposed for Williston.
Mel Falcon, president of Northwest Refining Inc., is on the steering
committee for the grant that was secured by Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D,
and was announced this past Friday. Falcon is working with the North
Dakota Association of Rural Electric Cooperatives group that is
coordinating the study so work that's already done isn't duplicated.
proposal for a 100,000 barrel-per-day plant involved a preliminary
feasibility study. Documents filed with the North Dakota Industrial
Commission stated Falcon's preliminary feasibility engineering study
was to explore all of the factors involved in the development,
construction and operation of an oil refinery that would be located
near Williston. Falcon said the new grant dollars should reinforce what
his project already has documented and "it should give us a little bit
better marketing tools and things like that."
asked how many new oil refineries that state could handle, Falcon said,
"The oil is here, but I'm not sure about the marketing of the finished
product. If that looks good, I would say a 100,000 barrel-per-day
refinery would be sufficient for now."
But he asked what are people looking at for the future, "U.S.-made goods or do we still want to import 75 percent?"
Falcon believes the new study should provide more details for a refinery proposal.
"I think the dollars will be put to good use. That's my opinion anyway," he said.
The study is to take place in phases, with the first phase involving creating the framework to hire a consultant, he said.
"In November we will have (Phase 1) put together to hire a consultant to get it started," Falcon said.
a refinery built, considering a new facility hasn't been constructed in
the United States in over 30 years, "takes a collective effort on
everybody's part to make everything work. It takes a little
participation from everybody. We've already started doing that with the
Mon-Dak Energy Alliance."
He believes the Mon-Dak Energy
Alliance is a good resource, as it has helped to pull federal,
regional, state and local officials and residents together to discuss
"I'm happy to see people coming in," he said of
the ongoing Mon-Dak meetings that have so far alternated between
Williston and Sidney. "We seem to be getting a bigger crowd every time."
spoke in Williston at the last Mon-Dak meeting on Aug. 20. In a Dorgan
press release announcing the grant funding, it stated North Dakota has
been hit in recent years with fuel shortages that pinched consumers at
the pump and threatened fuel supplies for farmers.
shortages we've seen demonstrate North Dakota needs more refining
capacity," Dorgan was quoted as saying in the release. "We are a state
that produces much more energy than we can use, and we should never be
short on fuel."
Dorgan said the Tesoro refinery in Mandan is a
great refinery, and "I've encouraged them to expand. However, more
refining is needed."
Rep. Shirley Meyer, D-Dickinson, along with
Rep. Kenton Onstad, D-Parshall, have pushed the need for an oil
refinery in the state. Meyer said she and others support Tesoro's
efforts, but that operation is basically landlocked.
Affiliated Tribes also are pursuing a plant that would process tar
sands oil piped in from Canada. When the Tribes started to explore a
refinery several years ago, the Canadian tar sands oil was the primary
product available to pursue.
"They did not know at the time they
were going to be sitting within 25 or 30 miles from many, many wells
that are 3,000 to 4,000 barrels a day," Meyer said of the tribal
One of the points Meyer wants people to consider, however, "is we need more than one refinery here."
said there have been months were North Dakota oil has been discounted
as much as $13 a barrel because it can't get to market. That has
resulted in $30 million in lost revenues because of stranded oil, she
"It's ridiculous for our economy and the royalty owners," she said.