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Energy & Environment

Energy Secretary Perry tours ND Coal Country

Dave Thompson
Prairie Public

US Secretary of Energy Rick Perry is praising North Dakota for its innovations in energy.

Perry toured coal fields and power plants during a visit to the western part of the state Monday. Perry told a roundtable discussion following the tour – at the University of Mary in Bismarck – he was very impressed with the Coal Creek Station power plant and its co-located Blue Flint ethanol facility, which uses steam from the power plant to produce ethanol.

"This is what America's all about," Perry told the roundtable. "What you're doing in North Dakota is literally a renaissance of American ingenuity and American know-how."

During the discussion with energy industry leaders, Perry was asked for the Department of Energy's financial support for some “clean coal” projects that would capture carbon dioxide and use it for things such as enhanced oil recovery. The projects are called “Project Tundra” and the “Allam Cycle.”

"We strongly feel there's a couple of things that have to happen, if we want to keep coal viable," said Dale Nieswaag of Basin Electric Power Cooperative. "We either have to find a better way to use the resource, or find a feasible way to capture CO2 and either sequester it or use it in the oil fields."

CO2 is used for enhanced oil recovery.

During the discussion, the CEO of Energy Transfer Partners – the owner of the Dakota Access Pipeline – hinted that there are plans to expand that pipeline’s capacity.

Dakota Access now carries 500,000 barrels of Bakken crude. But with oil production in the Bakken ramping up, that pipeline is already at or near capacity.

"We hope to be announcing an expansion in North Dakota," said Energy Transfer Partners CEO Kelsey Warren. "It just takes time."

Warren said because of the processes in place, it takes about two years from announcement to completion.

The discussion centered on infrastructure needs in the energy industry.

"Today, a producer in the Bakken oil field sells crude at a higher price than a producer in the Permian (Basin in Texas, also a shale oil field)," Warren said. "How is that possible? It's called infrastructure."

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