Published January 1, 2013 | January 2013 issue
The Three Affiliated Tribes of the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nation are moving ahead with plans to build a $400 million oil refinery on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation in northwestern North Dakota. It will be the first refinery built in the U.S. in more than 30 years and is the largest economic development project in the history of the tribes.
Fort Berthold is located atop the Bakken formation, an oil deposit that underlies an area of approximately 200,000 square miles of North Dakota, Montana, and the Canadian provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan. The Thunder Butte Petroleum Services refinery will process about 20,000 barrels of Bakken crude oil a day into gasoline, jet fuel, diesel fuel, and naphtha (a petroleum distillate used to make lighter fluid and lantern fuel, among other products). The first phase of construction is slated to begin in the spring of 2013, less than a year after the Environmental Protection Agency granted its final permit approval for the project. The refinery site is on a 467-acre parcel of tribally owned land in the northeastern corner of the reservation, approximately 40 miles southwest of Minot, N.D.