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Notes From The Editor

Editorial: Frogs Drinking At The Bakken Pool

Contributor: Tim Haïdar
Posted: 05/13/2013

"The frog does not drink up the pond in which he lives" Lakota Proverb

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A sound that had not been heard for more than a generation rang out across the Drift Prairie last week: ground was broken on the first refinery to be built in the USA for more than 30 years.

The Three Affiliated Tribes – the Mandan, Hidasta and Arikara - have begun work on the $450 million oil facility on476 acres of land inside the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation. The Thunder Butte Petroleum Services refinery will process 20,000 barrels per day (bpd) of crude from the Bakken oil field into gasoline, jet fuel, diesel fuel, and naphtha products.

And this is just the first of many mooted projects to take off in the Flickertail State, with $2.5 billion committed to the construction of two fertilizer manufacturing plants using Bakken flare gas as feedstock.

The Bakken play is churning out some 700,000 bpd in a liquids market that hit 3 million bpd in 2013. Currently, North Dakota has only one other refinery - the 60,000 bpd Tesoro facility at Mandan. Some projections foresee the Bakken becoming one of the elite 1 Million bpd Club alongside supergiant fields like Ghawar and Cantarell in 2014, others see a rapid peak and decline. Either way the frog needs to drink, but he would do well to pace his libation.

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Contributor: Tim Haïdar