PSC receives update on a proposed oil refinery near Belfield

Dec 19, 2017

Representatives of Meridian Energy meet with the North Dakota Public Service Commission.
Credit Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

Representatives of Meridian Energy say they hope to start construction next year on a new 27,500 barrel a day oil refinery near Belfield.

Company officials had an informal meeting with the North Dakota Public Service Commission, to update commissioners on the project. The PSC would get involved in siting the refinery, if it reached the 50,000 barrel per day threshold. Meridian is now waiting for a final decision from the state Health Department on an air quality permit.

The refinery has become controversial, because it’s close to the Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Company CEO and Chairman William Prentice told the PSC it would be about three miles away from the Park.

Prentice said when built, the Davis Refinery will be – in his words – “the cleanest refinery on the planet.”

"I was given a clear path to build the kind of refinery that I would like to see every day, if I were in the area," Prentice told the PSC. "It's not going to be cheap."

Prentice said the location close to a national park means the company would be held to a higher standard.

"Our idea has not been to move the refinery to someplace where we could pollute more," Prentice said. "It has been billed as the cleanest refinery in this industry, and it will change the industry as a result."

Prentice said the plant's location is an opportunity.

"We can show what the industry can achieve," Prentice said. "I think everybody is going to be pleased with the result."

Prentice said there will be a buffer around the refinery, to hide it from view. And he told the PSC that, if the company wants to expand the capacity, it would file a siting plan with the Commission.