Construction on the first major oil refinery to be built in the United States in three decades is set to begin in 2013 on the Fort Berthold Reservation.
The refinery, estimated to cost at least $350 million, will be constructed near Makoti after Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar announced Wednesday in New Town that his department had approved an application for the refinery, and that 469 acres had been placed into trust, meaning the project can move forward.
It was another huge step in the process that began years ago. The project is estimated to take 12 to 18 months to complete. When finished, the facility will refine 13,000 barrels a day of North Dakota crude oil into products including propane and diesel fuel. Supporters estimate the project could create as many as 1,000 jobs during the construction phase, and up to 80 permanent jobs when the refinery is up and running.
The facility will benefit the region's oil industry by keeping more Bakken products here in the area, notably the diesel fuel refined at the facility. That's important to companies in need of diesel, which is increasingy in demand.
It's an historic moment to be sure for the Three Affiliated Tribes. The project is under tribal control, and has taken an enormous amount of work to guide the project through the lengthy permitting process. Wednesday's announcement was also a monumental day for the entire state of North Dakota. Think about it: The first new oil refinery to be build in decades in the United States will be built near Makoti, N.D. That in itself is an accomplishment to be celebrated.