CASSELTON, ND – Continental Resources, which helped resurrect North Dakota’s oil industry, is investing in what is billed as the world’s largest carbon capture project – taking greenhouse gas emissions from greenhouse ethanol plants and storing them underground in North Dakota.
Summit Carbon Solutions, based in Iowa, announced Wednesday, March 2, a $250 million investment from Continental Resources, which will also bring its expertise in North Dakota geology.
In an interview, Harold Hamm, the founder of Continental Resources, said the storage area in Mercer and Oliver counties west of Bismarck is a “sweet spot” for carbon storage, a key part of North Dakota’s goal to be carbon neutral by 2030.
“We believe it’s the right thing to do for the right reasons, for the environment, for agriculture, for industry, for the country, and that’s why we’re here,” Hamm said.
It will be the first carbon storage project for Continental and its presence in North Dakota helped sell Hamm as part of the deal.
“It’s the state that’s making this happen,” Hamm told the crowd that gathered at Tharaldson Ethanol in Casselton for an announcement about the investment.
Tharaldson Ethanol is one of 31 ethanol producers in five states to join the Summit Carbon Solutions pipeline. The $4.5 billion project called Midwest Carbon Express would benefit ethanol plants by allowing them to sell fuel in the low-carbon market at a premium price.
Gary Tharaldson, the owner of Tharaldson Ethanol, said the takeover of Hamm and Continental Resources “is going to make things better for us than we had already anticipated.”
Bruce Rastetter, CEO of Summit Agricultural Group, the parent company of Summit Carbon Solutions, said the project would cut the carbon footprint of ethanol plants in half.
“I’m really excited about the opportunity we at Summit Carbon Solutions have to team up with Continental…to help put their shoulder, expertise and knowledge behind the creation of what will be a world-class project,” Rastetter told the crowd. .
Summit says it’s not asking any of the ethanol plants to help pay for the pipeline project, but rather a percentage of the top price ethanol plants would get in low-carbon markets , such as California.
Summit is also banking on a federal tax credit of $50 for each tonne of carbon dioxide stored permanently. Summit says the 31 ethanol plants will supply around 8 million tonnes of carbon dioxide and the project will have the capacity to store 12 million tonnes with possible expansion up to 20 million tonnes.
The main trunk of the Summit Carbon Solutions pipeline would run from Iowa, through eastern South Dakota and end west of Bismarck, North Dakota. There would also be supply lines from ethanol plants in Minnesota and Nebraska.
One of these feeder lines would run from an ethanol plant in Fergus Falls, Minnesota in the west to join a line running south from Casselton.
Summit’s project is meeting with some resistance from landowners, particularly in Iowa, where the Iowa Utilities Board was inundated with comments after Summit filed for a pipeline permit earlier this year.
He has also applied for a permit in South Dakota, where public meetings are coming.
Summit has yet to file for permits in North Dakota, but North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum said one of the benefits of carbon storage in the state is that it’s the first in the country to be able to issue a permit for carbon storage rather than going through the EPA.
Burgum called North Dakota a state that “prioritizes innovation, not regulation.”
Summit has also signed for a fertilizer plant that has yet to be built in Grand Forks.
In addition to being a market for ethanol corn, “farmers need low-carbon fertilizer and fuel,” Burgum said.
Summit would like to begin construction in 2023 and operate the pipeline in 2024.
Although liquid carbon dioxide can be used for enhanced oil recovery, Summit said it’s not part of its business plan.