DOI approves tribal land trust application for proposed North Dakota refinery

The US Department of the Interior approved a land-into-trust application from three North Dakota Indian tribes, accepting 469 acres into trust for a proposed 13,000 b/d refinery on 190 acres and feed production on the remainder.

“By working with the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara people to place this land into trust status, we are supporting infrastructure that will help bring American oil and gas to market while promoting tribal economic development and self-determination regarding land and resource use,” said US Sec. of the Interior Ken Salazar in announcing the action on Oct. 10 at the Fort Berthold reservation in North Dakota.

DOI said that if all required approvals are obtained, the proposed MHA Nation Clean Fuels Refinery would be the first new refinery built in the US in more than 30 years. It said project developers estimate the refinery could create 800 to 1,000 construction jobs, up to 140 operations jobs, and millions of dollars in annual revenue to benefit the three tribes and surrounding rural communities.

The proposed facility would refine Bakken formation crude oil into diesel fuel, propane, and naphtha products, according to DOI, which manages nearly 2 million subsurface acres of mineral estate in active areas of the Bakken play in North Dakota.

It said that future federal permitting and oversight will be handled by the US Army Corps of Engineers, Environmental Protection Agency, and Occupational Safety and Health Administration. EPA issued a National Pollution Discharge Elimination System permit for the refinery in August 2011, a step under the Clean Water Act that details required conditions and limitations for the proposed refinery’s operations, DOI said.

Comments on the latest decision will be accepted for 30 days following its publication in the Federal Register, it indicated.

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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