U.S. Energy Information Administration logo
Skip to sub-navigation
March 27, 2013

Rising North Dakota oil production and demand spurs two new refineries

Graph of U.S. electricity use and economic growth, as explained in the article text
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration.

One of two new refineries being built in North Dakota broke ground this week. The 20,000-barrel-per-day (bbl/d) Dakota Prairie facility is scheduled to be built in 20 months. The impetus for the state's second and third refineries is the rapid increase in demand for diesel fuel and kerosene for trucking and industrial use within the state. Much of the increase in demand has been fueled by the boom in crude oil production from the new wells in the Bakken Formation in North Dakota's northwest corner. The demand for these middle distillates rose 80% in North Dakota from 2009 to 2012, providing the incentive to invest in local refineries.

North Dakota currently has one refinery, the Tesoro Mandan refinery located near Bismarck. This refinery has a capacity of 60,000 bbl/d, and its primary products include diesel fuel, jet fuel, heavy fuel oils, and liquefied petroleum gas. The two new refineries are smaller, both rated at 20,000 bbl/d capacity, and both will be fairly simple units that focus on creating the diesel and kerosene that are needed locally.

The Dakota Prairie refinery, which just broke ground, is a joint venture of MDU Resources Group and Calumet Specialty Products and will primarily make diesel fuel.

The Trenton Diesel Refinery is also planned, but no start-up date has been announced; it received an air quality permit from the North Dakota Department of Health in early 2012.

The Trenton Diesel Refinery, whose parent company is Dakota Oil Processing, is expected to cost $200 million to build and start-up. It will have an atmospheric distillation column, hydrotreater, naphtha stabilizer, and associated process equipment. According to Dakota Oil Processing's website, the primary product from the refinery will be light gas oil, a type of distillate. Other products will be naphtha, which may be used in the petrochemical industry or mixed into heavy crude oil to make it easier to transport; kerosene that the refinery plans to blend with the distillate pool to maximize distillate yield; atmospheric gas oil, a type of heavy distillate; and heavy fuel oil, which can be sold in the bunker fuel market.