Project news

Synfuels plant deal at center of Heartland Hydrogen Hub at risk

Bakken Energy’s deal for the Great Plains Synfuels Plant, which makes up the centerpiece of the proposed Heartland Hydrogen Hub, has fallen through.

January 30, 2023

Bakken Energy’s deal for the Great Plains Synfuels Plant in Beulah, North Dakota is at risk.

The deal for the plant, which makes up the centerpiece of the Heartland Hydrogen Hub’s application for federal funding from the Department of Energy, has fallen through, according to a local news report.

Bakken Energy and Basin Electric Power Cooperative “ceased negotiations” for the sale earlier in January, Chris Baumgartner, Basin’s senior vice president of member and external relations, told the Bismarck Tribune.

A spokesperson for Bakken Energy said the company is “not permitted to comment due to ongoing confidentiality obligations.”

Following initial publication, a Basin spokesperson confirmed  there were no more ongoing talks about a deal with Bakken, and that the cooperative would pursue other opportunities with the plant.

Bakken announced a deal in 2021 with Mitsubishi Power Americas to build a hydrogen hub in North Dakota. The acquisition and redevelopment of the Great Plains Synfuels plant would have made it the largest producer of clean hydrogen in North America, the parties said at the time.

The hydrogen hub application includes Montana, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, in addition to North Dakota.

North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum noted in the news report that higher fertilizer prices and the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act were factors that had changed since the signing of the initial agreement.

“Right now, they take 2 million tons (of carbon dioxide) a year and ship it to the Weyburn field Canada for enhanced oil recovery,” Burgum said, according to the report. “There’s another 1.5 million potential of CO2 that’s produced at that plant today that’s not being captured, so they have the opportunity to capture that extra 1.5 million right there and get paid. So the economics have improved favorably for Basin in terms of the value of that plant versus what it was. I’m sure when you have that kind of rapid change in valuation, then sometimes the transactions don’t come together.”

Burgum suggested that Bakken Energy would continue to pursue opportunities related to hydrogen in North Dakota, according to the report.