Beulah synthetic gas plant conversion to hydrogen facility fails

Plans to turn a synthetic gas plant in Beulah into one of the largest hydrogen production facilities in the country and to make it a key component of a regional hub of hydrogen production have failed.

The Great Plains Synfuels Plant, where lignite coal is mined and transformed into natural gas, ammonia for fertilizer, carbon dioxide for oil recovery, and other chemical products, is owned by the Basin subsidiary Dakota Gasification Company. Bakken Energy, a Bismarck-based hydrogen company, announced in August 2021 that it had reached an agreement with Basin Electric Power Cooperative “on key terms and conditions to purchase the assets of the Dakota Gasification Company.”

Gov. Doug Burgum has since praised those plans, and the state Industrial Commission, which Burgum chairs, has approved $80 million in loans and a $10 million grant to assist make the project a reality. At the time, Bakken Energy stated that the agreement was “anticipated to be finished by April 1, 2023.”

But Chris Baumgartner, senior vice president of member and external relations at Basin, stated that the two parties “ceased negotiations” over the sale early this month.

Reice Haase, deputy executive director of the Industrial Commission, stated that Bakken Energy has already spent $4.76 million of those funds and is unlikely to refund it, despite the fact that the majority of the state awards would not proceed now that the agreement has fallen through.

The state’s ability to receive a portion of the $7 billion in federal funding that the U.S. Department of Energy anticipates awarding later this year for the formation of between six and ten regional clean hydrogen hubs may be in jeopardy as a result of Basin’s decision not to sell the synthetic natural gas facility.

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