Synthesizing an energy market

North Dakota State Roundup

Published January 1, 2008  | January 2008 issue

North Dakota might capitalize on its large coal reserves yet again, while helping clean up the dirty reputation of the fossil fuel.

In late November, the Houston-based Great Northern Power Development LP announced intentions to spend $1.4 billion on a new synfuels plant and coal mine near South Heart in the southwestern part of the state. The plant would take coal from the mine and process it into natural gas using specialized technology. The carbon dioxide created during the process would be sequestered deep underground.

There are only a few coal gasification plants in the United States, but this would be the state's second. The Great Plains Synfuels Plant, owned by the Dakota Gasification Company in Beulah, has been in operation since 1984. The new plant would increase coal demand in the state by an estimated 16 percent. A state industrial commission also recently committed a $7.3 million grant to the project.

Ronald A. Wirtz