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ND refinery to increase diesel production

MANDAN, N.D. (AP) -- Tesoro Corp. plans to increase diesel production at its North Dakota oil refinery in response to growing demand in the region.

Production at the Mandan plant -- the only oil refinery in North Dakota -- will increase by 5,000 barrels per day, to 22,000 barrels by the end of 2013, the San Antonio-based company said.

Diesel shortages that often occur during the busy fall harvest season in the Upper Midwest have reached levels not seen in years. Officials cite several factors, including an early harvest, work related to major flooding in the Dakotas this year and a booming oil patch in western North Dakota. Truck drivers have found themselves sitting in long lines at fuel terminals, waiting for diesel to arrive via pipeline.

Tesoro's decision was lauded by U.S. Sen. John Hoeven and petroleum industry officials. North Dakota Petroleum Council President Ron Ness said it was "fantastic news" for both diesel suppliers and consumers.

"More homemade diesel fuel for all of us," he told The Bismarck Tribune.

Tesoro in March announced a $35 million project to increase capacity at the Mandan refinery by 10,000 barrels a day so it can handle 68,000 barrels of crude daily from the rich Bakken shale and Three Forks formations in western North Dakota. The company says the expansion should be complete by June.

"We're glad that Tesoro has recognized both the need and the opportunity available in our state," Hoeven said.