Facts at a glance
- The capacity for production is 170 million cubic feet per day of synthetic natural gas, which is shipped via the Northern Border Pipeline to market.
- 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 delivers on average about 2 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, North Dakota, the Synfuels Plant has been owned and operated by Dakota Gas since 1988.
- More than $1.3 billion has been invested in the Synfuels Plant since 1988 to achieve environmental compliance, improve efficiency, and diversify the product slate. Most recently, about $700 million was invested in a major expansion to produce urea, liquid carbon dioxide, and diesel exhaust fluid.
- The Synfuels Plant is the only commercial-scale coal gasification plant in the United States that that was originally designed and operated to manufacture synthetic natural gas from lignite coal.
- The 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. Using the Lurgi process, ANG began gasifying lignite coal into synthetic natural gas in 1984.
- The plant is 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).
- 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.
- The plant is fueled by domestic lignite coal reserves in western North Dakota.
- The plant used about 18,000 tons of lignite coal each day, supplied via the Freedom Mine.
- The plant 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.
- The plant 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 delivered more than 44 million metric tons of CO2 for geologic sequestration since 2000.
Carbon dioxide capture and storage
Dakota Gas sells carbon dioxide (CO2) produced at the plant and transports it through a 205-mile pipeline to Saskatchewan, Canada, to be used for enhanced oil recovery in the Weyburn field. The first CO2 was sent to Canada in October 2000.
Today, Dakota Gas delivers on average about 2 million metric tons of carbon dioxide per year to Canada for enhanced oil recovery. Weyburn oil field operators have indicated that carbon dioxide injection has vastly extended the life and productivity of the Weyburn fields.
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% 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.