Ground breaking ceremony near for tribal refinery

MAKOTI The Three Affiliated Tribes are planning to break ground this spring for a refinery near Makoti, and will have full construction under way there this summer.

Thunder Butte Petroleum Services Inc. will be a clean fuels refinery to refine Bakken Formation crude oil.

Rich Mayer, CEO of the project, said the plans now are that the refinery would be capable of refining 20,000 barrels per day of Bakken Formation crude oil into diesel fuel, propane and naphtha products. Earlier the plans had been for 15,000 barrels per day to be refined.

Currently, the tribes are working on the intial phases of engineering and completing the financing, Mayer said.

The Tesoro Mandan Refinery at Mandan is North Dakota’s only refinery but last week ground was broken for the Dakota Prairie Refinery, west of Dickinson. Other refinery projects proposed include one in the Trenton area.

The tribes began working on their refinery project about 10 years ago. The project has taken extensive time because of the various federal permits and other approvals the tribes are required for the project.

The refinery site is on the Fort Berthold Reservation. The site is off N.D. Highway 23 and near the Canadian Pacific Railway tracks.

This past October, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar visited Fort Berthold to announce the transfer of the 469 acres near Makoti into trust status. The proposed refinery will be on about 190 acres and the remaining acreage will be for feed production for the tribes’ buffalo herd.