At a Glance

Basin Electric Power Cooperative, through its for-profit subsidiary, Dakota Gasification Company, owns and operates the Great Plains Synfuels Plant. The Synfuels Plant is the only commercial-scale coal gasification plant in the United States that manufactures natural gas. It is also the cleanest energy plant operating in the state of North Dakota, according to a comparison of emissions data available from the North Dakota Department of Health.

  • Average daily production of natural gas is about 153 million cubic feet, the majority of which is piped to Ventura, IA, for distribution in the eastern United States.
  • The Synfuels Plant supplies carbon dioxide to the world’s largest carbon capture and storage project in the world in Saskatchewan, Canada. Dakota Gas currently captures between 2.5 and 3 million metric tons of carbon dioxide per year.
  • The $2.1-billion plant began operating in 1984. Using Lurgi gasifiers, the Synfuels Plant gasifies lignite coal to produce valuable gases and liquids. Located five miles northwest of Beulah, ND, the Synfuels Plant has been owned and operated by Dakota Gas since 1988.
  • About $665 million has been invested in the Synfuels Plant since 1988 to achieve environmental compliance, improve efficiency, and diversify the product slate.

Facts at a glance

  • The Synfuels Plant is the only commercial-scale coal gasification plant in the United States that manufactures natural gas.
  • The $2.1-billion plant was built in response to America's quest for energy independence during the 1970s energy crisis by a group of five interstate pipeline companies, Great Plains Gasification Associates (GPGA), of which American Natural Gas (ANG) was the majority partner.
  • Located near Beulah, ND, and adjacent to Basin Electric's Antelope Valley Station, a 900-megawatt baseload electric generating plant. The Synfuels Plant and Antelope Valley Station share certain facilities and coal and water supplies: Antelope Valley Station supplies the Synfuels Plant with electricity, and the Synfuels Plant supplies several of Basin Electric's gas peaking facilities with synthetic natural gas (SNG).
  • Using the Lurgi process, ANG began gasifying lignite coal into SNG in 1984.
  • U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) acquired the plant in 1985.
  • Dakota Gas acquired the plant from the DOE in 1988 pursuant to an Asset Purchase Agreement. Dakota Gas made its final payment to the DOE in February 2010. The U.S. government has recouped $1.3 billion of its original investment in the plant through revenue sharing, tax credits surrendered and the revenue received during ownership.
  • Fueled by domestic lignite coal reserves in western North Dakota.
  • Gasifies more than 6 million tons of coal annually.
  • Average daily production is approximately 153 million standard cubic feet of synthetic natural gas.
  • Sells more than 54 billion standard cubic feet of SNG annually.
  • Transports synthetic natural gas through a 34-mile pipeline where it connects to the Northern Border Pipeline for delivery to homes and businesses in the eastern United States.
  • Produces fertilizers, solvents, phenol, carbon dioxide, and other chemical products for sale.
  • Dakota Gas has one for-profit subsidiary, Souris Valley Pipeline Ltd., which has the capacity to deliver up to 165 million standard cubic feet of carbon dioxide daily to two Canadian oil fields for enhanced oil recovery.
  • The plant has captured and transported nearly 35 million metric tons of CO2 for geologic sequestration since 2000.

Carbon dioxide capture and storage

Dakota Gas captures and sells carbon dioxide (CO2) produced at the plant to two customers and transports it through a 205-mile pipeline to Saskatchewan, Canada, to be used for enhanced oil recovery in the Weyburn and Midale fields. The first CO2 was sent to Canada in October 2000.

Today, Dakota Gas exports about 152 million cubic feet per day of CO2 to Canada – about 50 percent of the CO2 produced when running at full rates.

CO2 from other power plants is very wet and diluted with nitrogen and oxygen and requires further processing, but Dakota Gas' process results in a CO2 stream that is very dry and 96 percent pure, so no additional processing is needed.

The Synfuels Plant's unique gasification operations and CO2 capture and transport continue to draw worldwide attention. Visitors from Germany, China, Italy, Korea, Great Britain and Japan, the United States and other nations have toured our facilities. National media from 60 Minutes, The History Channel, and Fox News, and television reporters from London, Tokyo, and Montreal have produced reports and special programs about the plant.