UND Today

University of North Dakota’s Official News Source

Now in N.D.: World’s largest coal-based user of geologic carbon storage

U.S. senator: Grant to UND’s Energy & Environmental Research Center promotes carbon capture, helps keep oil and gas extraction viable

Appearing at UND’s Energy and Environmental Research Center, Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., announces a $5.1 million Department of Energy grant to fund carbon capture and storage technology. Photo by Joe Banish/UND Today.

North Dakota’s senior senator visited UND’s Energy & Environmental Research Center in early May to announce a $5.1 million U.S. Department of Energy grant to advance carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS) monitoring.

Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., a member of the Senate Committee on Energy & Natural Resources, said the EERC’s efforts allow North Dakota’s energy producers to remain economically viable.

“The EERC has been near and dear to my heart because of all the great things you do,” he said. “This funding that we get, and you deploy, is what enables us to keep a coal-fired energy industry in this state when others are going out of business. You are leading the way forward.”

Charles Gorecki, CEO of the EERC, praised Hoeven’s advocacy at the federal level — which led the organization to honor the senator with its Energy Champion Award in 2017. In particular, Gorecki highlighted the senator’s work in the fields of carbon capture, hydrogen technology, emissions control and critical minerals and rare earth metals, among others.

Charles Gorecki, CEO of the EERC, speaks at an event celebrating a $5.1 million U.S. Department of Energy grant for the advancement of carbon capture and storage technology. Photo by Joe Banish/UND Today.

“This contributes to our state’s clean, abundant and affordable supply of energy, which helps drive our economy,” Gorecki said. “I cannot overstate the incredible efforts Sen. Hoeven has undertaken, working closely with our own John Harju (vice president for strategic partnerships at the EERC) to continue to fight for the EERC’s cooperative agreement with the Department of Energy.

“It certainly hasn’t been easy, but it has never been too hard for Sen. Hoeven to keep that agreement going.”

UND President Andrew Armacost said the EERC’s work benefits the entire nation because coal is vital to keep up with the high energy demand of such industries as data processing.

“Seeing all of your faces here, I’m reminded of how your dedication to the mission of the EERC really makes a difference,” he said. “When I think of the EERC, I think of a broad mission statement which is ‘we power the nation, we power the world.’ We have industries and human beings that rely on energy, and to make it safe, affordable and reliable — you do that day in and day out.”

UND President Andrew Armacost speaks at a ceremony commemorating a $5.1 million U.S. Department of Energy grant awarded to the EERC. Photo by Joe Banish/UND Today.

The $5.1 million, which expands on a $1.4 million grant awarded for the same purpose in February 2023, will be used to fund CCUS operations at Dakota Gasification Co.’s Great Plains Synfuels Plant in Beulah, N.D.

According to a Hoeven press release, the expansions made possible under these grants make the facility the largest coal-based CCUS project to use geologic storage in the world.

In addition to the combined $6.5 million awarded for CCUS at DGC’s Synfuels Plant, the DOE’s Office of Fossil Energy & Carbon Management awarded the EERC $11.6 million in April to study the feasibility of injecting captured CO2 into unconventional oil reservoirs, such as western North Dakota’s Bakken Formation.

The Great Plains Synfuels Plant near Beulah, N.D., is the only commercial-scale coal gasification facility in the United States that manufactures natural gas. Dakota Gasification Co. photo.

Hoeven said such technology will ensure the long-term viability of oil and gas extraction in the state.

“That is how we’re going to put legs on the Bakken,” he said. “We’re going to compete and win because we are going to drive forward into the future with the best technology.”

Gorecki added that DGC has experience with the aforementioned process. Since 2000, the organization has been transporting about 2 million tons of captured carbon dioxide annually via pipeline to the Weyburn Oil Fields of Saskatchewan for the purpose of enhanced oil recovery. The CO2 then is stored within geologic substrates.

“We are so proud of the safety record we’ve had with the CO2 pipeline going up to Canada,” said Dale Johnson, senior vice president at DGC. “Now, we’re going to have safe operations in North Dakota.”