Refinery group eyes summer 2016 for Bakken groundbreaking

By Ann Bailey | December 30, 2015

Meridian Energy Group Inc. plans to break ground on a refinery in Belfield, North Dakota, this summer. 

Meridian Energy Group, a South Dakota corporation, which has offices in Houston and Irvine, California, plans to soon open an office in or near Belfield, said Frederick Bloom, the company’s business development vice president.

The site near Belfield has several advantages to make the refinery profitable, including its location near transportation infrastructure, the abundance of low-cost natural gas in the region to be used as a plant fuel and accommodating policies and procedures with local permitting authorities. 

Bloom declined to give specifics on the cost of the refinery, but did say it likely will produce about 55,000 gallons of oil daily. 

The extraction of the crude oil in the Bakken has grown so quickly that the refining capacity of the region hasn’t kept pace, Meridian Energy Group said in a news release. North Dakota has only 76,000 barrels per day of refining capacity, which is less than 5 percent of total Bakken production. 

North Dakota is losing revenue and tax dollars by shipping crude oil out of the state and then shipping diesel fuel back in, Bloom said, adding that more than 4 million gallons of diesel oil are imported into North Dakota daily. 

Meridian Energy Group believes the economic outlook for the refinery, which it will call Davis, is good, Bloom said. Bloom called the downturn in oil prices which increases the profit margin of refineries a “golden age” for the refineries. 

“We believe the lower oil prices are good for refineries,” he said. 

Meridian Energy Group Inc., plans to have the refinery in operation two years from groundbreaking, which would be summer 2018, Bloom said.