Ethane power plant proposed for northwest North Dakota | Prairie Public Broadcasting

Ethane power plant proposed for northwest North Dakota

Jan 13, 2021

A project is in the works to use ethane from Bakken wells to generate electricity.

Bakken Midstream Natural Gas has announced a large-scale, baseload power plant will be built near Williston. It will be called the Williston Basin Energy Center.

Natural gas is a byproduct of drilling Bakken oil wells. Ethane is a natural gas liquid.

Bakken Midstream CEO Mike Hopkins said ethane has a high-heat content, and there isn’t much demand for it.

"You have all this natural gas that comes with your oil," Hopkins said. "You've gotta keep the gas moving, or you won't be producing your oil."

Hopkins said the Bakken produces a lot of ethane, more than other shale plays.

"Because of that, you've got this developing problem," Hopkins said.

Hopkins said ethane is best used close to the supply. And he said that’s what will happen in this project.

"That's giving you two things," Hopkins said. "A very low cost of power. And by taking the ethane out, you're relieving the pressure that's there. You're reducing the heat content, you're allowing the gas to flow, you're allowing the oil to flow. And you're reducing flaring."

Hopkins said plans will be drafted to get the ethane to the plant. He called it a “value added” project for North Dakota’s oil and gas industry.

The project will likely take several years to complete.