Companies aim to build ‘clean hydrogen’ hub in North Dakota

June 2, 2021 GMT

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum and energy industry officials announced Wednesday a plan to establish a hub for so-called clean hydrogen that someday could be used in everything from powering vehicles to energy generation.

Burgum hailed the project as big part of the state’s plan of becoming carbon-neutral by 2030, “through innovation not regulation.”

No specific timeline or a cost for the project was disclosed.

Houston-based Bakken Energy and Mitsubishi Power Americas also announced non-specific details of negotiations with Basin Electric Power Cooperative to acquire and redevelop the Bismarck-based company’s financially troubled synthetic natural gas plant in western North Dakota.

Officials said the hub consist of facilities that produce, store, transport and consume the carbon-free fuel. The hub will focus on the production of blue hydrogen, which is derived from natural gas with the carbon dioxide emissions captured, and sequestered underground or used for enhanced oil recovery.


Officials said the idea it to connect the hub by a pipeline to other hubs proposed throughout North America.

The hydrogen for the project will come from natural gas produced in North Dakota’s oil fields or from gas from the Dakota Gasification plant, or a mix of both — if the deal goes through for the facility.

“We got a ways to go,” said Paul Sukut, Basin’s general manager and CEO.

Officials said the project would move ahead with or without the synfuels plant.

The hulking industrial complex on the prairie is the only one of two in the world — the other one is in South Africa. It was built in response to the energy crisis of the 1970s to make natural gas from lignite, a low-grade coal abundant in North Dakota.

Dakota Gasification has endured several years of losses as it struggled to compete with cheap natural gas made available by hydraulic fracturing in western North Dakota’s oil-producing region.

Basin bought the plant from the U.S. Department of Energy in October 1988. Basin’s subsidiary paid $85 million for the plant, which was built for $2.1 billion in 1984, and agreed to pass on some tax breaks and share revenues with the federal agency through 2009.