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Devils Lake oil refinery far from certain

Devils Lake officials are emphasizing that any plans to build an oil refinery there are extremely preliminary.

On Tuesday, WDAZ-TV reported that American Energy Holdings plans to build a $250 million refinery with a capacity of 20,000 barrels per day that would employ up to 100 people. The facility would produce diesel and aviation fuel.

Rachel Lindstrom, executive director of Forward Devils Lake, the local economic development corporation, said the city is one potential location for that facility.

“There are a number of factors that make this very preliminary,” Lindstrom said. She added that it’s still unclear how the facility may affect the area’s tourism industry and nearby farms, among other questions.

“What they’ve stated is that they’ve picked Devils Lake as one of their top areas of choice, and that’s about the extent of it,” Lindstrom said. “It hasn’t gone to our city commission and it hasn’t gone to our Forward Devils Lake board. They know of it, but the official proposal has not been presented.”


American Energy Holdings CEO Will Stone’s voicemail was unable to accept new messages Wednesday, and other company officials did not return calls seeking comment.

Lindstrom said the company has been in contact with Forward Devils Lake for about a year or more, although she only started there about two months ago. She said it may be clearer by the spring whether they choose to pursue the Devils Lake industrial park as its location for a refinery.

Lindstrom said American Energy Holdings is a recently formed company based in Michigan, although no company with that name has an active listing in the state’s corporation registration database.

Lindstrom said the company is seeking investors for the project, its first. She wasn’t sure if they would pursue public financing for the project.

Ron Ness, president of the North Dakota Petroleum Council, said Wednesday he was unaware of the proposed project until this week.

“It should be interesting to see what their plan is,” he said.

Devils Lake Mayor Dick Johnson said he has concerns about how the facility could affect the environment. But he said officials should, at the very least, take a look at the project.

“We’ve got a great lake, we’ve got good air quality, we’ve got a great deal of tourism coming into the community,” he said. “We can’t jeopardize that.”

John Hageman

John Hageman covers North Dakota politics from the Forum News Service bureau in Bismarck. He attended the University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities, where he studied journalism and political science, and he previously worked at the Grand Forks Herald and Bemidji Pioneer.  

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