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'Project Tundra' altering its focus

Minnkota Power Cooperative

The state’s Industrial Commission recently approved an additional $5 million to help fund a front-end engineering and design study for additional work on “Project Tundra,” the project to capture carbon dioxide from the Milton R. Young power plant near Center.

As originally proposed, the CO2 would have been stored in nearby geological formations, or taken by pipeline to western North Dakota for enhanced oil recovery. But that focus has changed.

"Because of the change in the market situation for commercial CO2, especially because of the price of oil and gas dropping temporarily, and the maturity of our oil fields, they're looking at the sure near-term opportunity as geologic storage," Mike Holmes of the Lingnite Energy Council told the Commission.

Holmes said the owner of the Young plant, Minnkota Cooperative, is looking at storing the CO2 in underground formations at the plant, and at the nearby Center Mine.

"Long range, they still are looking at the benefit of being able to continue the lignite industry, but also oil and gas, through enhanced oil recovery," Holmes said.

The total project cost for Project Tundra is now $46 million. The Industrial Commission has committed $20 million, and the rest will come from Minnkota, the federal Department of Energy, and other partners.

Holmes said Project Tundra will likely become the biggest CO2 capture project in the country.

"In fact, Petronova, which was the front runner, is now temporarily shut down because of low oil prices," Holmes said. "Their economic model was simply for enhanced oil recovery."

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