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New refinery proposed in Billings County

Billings County may soon see another diesel fuel refinery rise.

California-based Meridian Energy Group Inc. is looking to build a refinery on 620 acres of land west of Belfield. It would refine crude oil produced in the Bakken.

The Davis Refinery, if built, would be the nation’s second greenfield refinery constructed in the county — and the United States — since 1976 following the opening of the Dakota Prairie Refinery outside of Dickinson, which began operating in April after a March 2013 groundbreaking.

According to an article released Wednesday by the Oil & Gas Journal, the Davis Refinery would begin with a 20,000 barrel a day processing plant and eventually convert around 55,000 barrels per stream day into refined products. By comparison, Dakota Prairie Refining refines an estimated 20,000 barrels a day into diesel fuel, naphtha and other products.

Meridian did not immediately respond to phone inquiries made Monday by The Press.

On its website, Meridian says it hopes to help alleviate the state’s diesel shortage with the refinery.

The article states Meridian has already made contracts with Venezuela-based engineering and construction firm Vepica and Texas-based BASIC Equipment for preliminary engineering studies, as well as help with the refinery’s permitting, financing and construction process.

The article also states that Meridian expects to get expedited permitting for the plant in early 2016, clearing the way for construction to begin in the first half of the year.

On its website, Meridian cites the property’s close proximity to transportation infrastructure, including oil and gas pipelines, Interstate 94 and Highway 85, and the BSNF Railway railroad. The Fryburg Rail Loading Facility is also nearby.

Belfield city auditor Natalie Muruato said she had only just heard about the proposed refinery herself, but that such a business would be “good for Belfield.”

Gaylon Baker, the executive vice president of the Stark Development Corp., said his group had known that some entity was examining prospects in the region but did not know which.

“It was a pleasant surprise,” he said about hearing of the proposed refinery.

Baker said such a venture made sense, considering the infrastructure that lies in the area.

“It’s the kind of thing we’ve prepared for,” he said.

He said it was interesting how companies are investing more toward specialization in the oil industry, citing Davis and Dakota Prairie Refing’s response to the local need for diesel.

“It’s an ever-changing environment out there in the energy industry,” Baker said.

Wernette is a reporter for The Press. Contact him at 701-456-1211.

Andrew Wernette

Wernette came to The Dickinson Press from his home state of Michigan in April 2015 as reporter for the newspaper's energy, political, crime, courts and cops beats. Before The Press, Wernette worked at his university's newspaper as a section editor, as well as interned at a local county paper as a reporter. Outside of work, he enjoys reading, writing, cooking, taking a stroll and planning his next world travel adventure.

(701) 456-1211