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Petrochemicals -- the "next boom?"


Representatives of a Bismarck engineering firm say communities in the Oil Patch should start preparing for a potential boom – this time, from the petrochemical industry.

Specifically, plastics.

Don Kopesky and Scott Karon spoke to the North Dakota Planning Conference, being held in Bismarck. Kopesky said North Dakota has the resources to make plastics. And he said the state has the capacity to generate electricity at a low cost, which could be another carrot for those companies.

"Between the hydrocarbon feed stock, and the energy required to process it, it makes North Dakota a really good spot, compared to the rest of the world," Kopesky said in an interview. "We could have very attractive production costs."

Kopesky said the state will have to convince the petrochemical players that they want to be in North Dakota.

"We have to convince them to take us seriously," Kopesky said.

"And we have to tell them there's a profit to be made," Karon said. "Ultimately, that's why they're going to come."

Karon said cities in western North Dakota -- especially south of Lake Sakakawea -- need to be aware that this industry could be coming – and plan accordingly.

"It's likely there will be lots more people," Karon said. "How do we make plans for that?"

Several companies are reported to be interested in North Dakota. Recently, a delegation from the state visited petrochemical facilities in Alberta.

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