Basin Electric adding urea production at coal gasification plant

Dakota Gasification Co., a subsidiary of Basin Electric Power Cooperative, plans to enter into a Front-End Engineering and Design (FEED) study for a urea production plant at its Great Plains Synfuels Plant near Beulah, ND.

Urea, a granular fertilizer, would be the ninth co-product for the Synfuels Plant, which gasifies locally-mined lignite. Based on a successful FEED study, the urea plant will be complete by late 2015 or early 2016 and will produce 1,100 tons of urea per day, Basin Electric said Oct. 12.

“We are proud to build on our fertilizer products, bringing more benefit to this nation’s agricultural customers,” said Andrew Serri, Dakota Gas president and CEO. The urea plant will join anhydrous ammonia and ammonium sulfate as a family of fertilizers produced and marketed by Dakota Gas.

Serri said urea production requires anhydrous ammonia (made from natural gas) and CO2, all of which are manufactured in the plant’s process. He said urea has the highest nitrogen content of all solid nitrogen fertilizers, but costs less to handle, store and transport than other nitrogen-based fertilizers.

“For the past nine months, Basin Electric has been engaged in strategic planning efforts surrounding critical issues facing the cooperative and Dakota Gas,” Serri said. “We’ve been evaluating a number of products and processes designed to bring value to rural America. We are excited about this next step. This is a continuation of commitment to our farming communities, and we are pleased we can expand our fertilizer production to meet the ever-growing demand.”

Dakota Gas is also adding a new 30,000-ton ammonia storage facility to increase availability of anhydrous ammonia. The expanded storage should be complete and in service by the spring of 2013.

The Great Plains plant began operating in 1984. The average daily production is about 160 million cubic feet of synthetic natural gas (SNG), the majority of which is piped to Ventura, Iowa, for distribution in the eastern U.S., the Basin Electric website noted. Basin Electric’s Antelope Valley Station, a lignite-fired power plant, is located adjacent to the Synfuels Plant. The two plants share resources such as fuel supply. The Synfuels Plant consumes about 18,000 tons of lignite each day, which is supplied from the nearby Freedom mine. The mine is owned and operated by The Coteau Properties Co., a subsidiary of the North American Coal Corp.

Progress made on building new natural gas-fired plant

Basin Electric also noted on that Oct. 12 that crews are busy pouring concrete foundations for various structures on the Lonesome Creek Station Phase I construction site west of Watford City, N.D. The foundation for the General Electric LM 6000 combustion turbine generator was poured the last week of September, said Chris Johnson, Basin Electric construction coordinator for the project, with the foundation for the generator step-up not long after.

In addition to concrete work, crews from Wanzek, the project’s general contractor, and subcontractors are installing underground infrastructure such as piping for water and ducts electrical wiring. Deliveries of primary components, such as the generator step-up, are expected to arrive onsite soon.

Once completed, Lonesome Creek will be a natural gas-fired peaker serving the increasing demand for electricity by member cooperatives in northwest North Dakota. The estimated $68.5m Phase I project was approved by the Basin Electric board of directors in February 2012. Phase I construction started in July and commercial operation of unit one is slated for mid-2013. Installation of the second two units, part of Phase II, is scheduled to begin in 2014 after all necessary permits and authorizations are obtained.

Each unit will have a nominal generation capacity of 45 MW. Unit one will incorporate a synchronous clutch, Basin Electric said. If needed, the turbine could be disconnected from the generator, and the generator would act as a motor to provide voltage support to the area. The plant will be tied into a McKenzie Electric Cooperative substation by a 115-kV transmission line about two miles long.

Pioneer Generation Station Phase I construction is taking place just northwest of the Lonesome Creek Station site in Mountrail-Williams Electric Cooperative’s distribution area. Pioneer’s construction is providing a blueprint of sorts for progress at Lonesome Creek, Basin Electric said.

Pioneer is a 45-MW project located near the site of a new natural gas processing plant. The project was approved by the Basin Electric board of directors in November 2011. Pioneer would primarily be used to support the local transmission system and serve loads developing in the area.