Recently Chevron CEO Mike Wirth publicly stated he does not expect another oil refinery to be built in the U.S. ever again. Well one person who disagrees with Wirth is William Prentice, CEO, Meridian Energy Group.
“I tend to agree that there will probably never be another large refinery again built in the United States,” Prentice said. “There have been a lot of large refineries shutting down over the years.”
Prentice then made it quite clear that he doesn’t agree with Wirth’s comments that there will be no new refineries at all.
“I do not agree that there will be no new refineries built in the US, because Meridian is going to build a bunch of them,” Prentice said.
Prentice explained how it is very difficult to get a federal permit to build a refinery, however, smaller refineries do not fall under the federal jurisdiction.
“We will just search out states who want a refinery to serve their local and regional consumers,” Prentice said.
Meridian Energy Group is currently in the process of building the Davis Refinery in the Bakken oil field outside of Belfield, North Dakota, next to the major trucking artery Highway 85.
Meridian Energy Group and the Davis Refinery were permitted as a synthetic minor source by the North Dakota Department of Health – Air Quality (NDDoH) after an extensive 18-month review in 2020.
This Permit to Construct (PTC) issued by the NDDoH validated all of the claims Meridian had made over the past years when they undertook the challenge to “clean up” the refining industry.
Meridian commenced construction in July near Belfield, North Dakota, east of the Fryburg Rail Terminal just a month after the NDDoH issued the Permit. The Company contracted with SEH D|B out of Bismarck, ND to take on a significant portion of the project, executing grading and other site work activities that are necessary for the refinery.
Meridian is confident the Davis Refinery will become the blueprint for all refinery products that follow it. Leveraging the best available control technology (BACT), Meridian has literally set the new green technology design standard for modern oil refinery and has redefined what’s possible in applying true innovation to all phases of the process – construction, operation, emissions control, and of course, ongoing regulation and monitoring.
Host Jason Spiess compared the smaller local refinery model to a Farmer’s Market, in that Corporate Ag has been trending towards local farm-to-table options. Prentice
When asked whether the state of North Dakota has given the Davis Refinery any support over the past decade, like the recent $350M given to Marathon Oil to enhance ethanol at their Dickinson, ND, refinery, Prentice became quite blunt and apologetic at the same time.
“I apologize to the state of North Dakota and my shareholders that I do not know how to do that. I do not know how to seek government aid to built a pure free market facility for a development stage company who wants to be an agent of change in this business,” Prentice said. “I think the market should be the basis for what we are trying to do, and it’s not our policy to ask for anything from the government.”
Prentice cited numerous examples of how they are working within the government’s parameters without asking for any assistance or handouts.
“We have not requested any tax relief from anything. We are going to pay out taxes,” Prentice said. “The Davis Refinery is going to triple the budget for Billings County and add about 1200-1400 jobs to the local economy. That’s what businesses are supposed to do.”
The conversation was then directed at US Senator Kevin Cramer, who has been making the media rounds on the National News, Talk & Opinion Networks like Fox News. Senator Cramer has been echoing the comments made my Chevron’s CEO regarding no new refineries being built in the United States.
“I don’t want to say anything that would upset Senator Cramer or his staff, but we are doing a lot of good for the state of North Dakota and when somebody is talking about the refining industry, I think it was an opportunity to at least give us an honorable mention.”
Prentice continued explaining the value of “an honorable mention” from a US Senator and how many investors look for those types of investment indicators. In true humble form, Prentice even gives a pass to the elected officials in North Dakota and their selection of who they promote, assist and give money to.
“It would have been nice to get an honorable mention from Senator Cramer to put in our public profile, but then again I can’t say that would have been nice when I also say that we steadily ignore government and try to do things on our own with our head down trying to do honest work and not depend on government for anything except for them to do their job with evaluating and awarding permits,” Prentice said.
In fact, Prentice added more context to the government-managed marketplace that currently exists in North Dakota by explaining how investors are now noticing the favoritism from the politicians and their inner circle establishment.
“Because of the fact Senator Cramer and others from the North Dakota political landscape have not been very vocal in their support, a number of our shareholders, which about a third of our shareholders are from North Dakota, got very upset with me for not saying something,” Prentice said. “So I did sent Senator Cramer a letter just updating him on our process and where we are on the project.”
He continued saying that in the past their leadership team has met with Senator John Hoeven, Senator Cramer and Congressman KellyArmstrong.
“We’ve met with them all just to keep them up to date. Not that we’ve ever asked for anything, but it’s polite to let them know what we are doing,” Prentice said. “Again, I am not in the business of asking the government for anything but it would be nice to be remembered when there is such dire urgency in the industry. Here we are with a shovel-ready project in the state of North Dakota and it’d be nice to be noticed and given some credit being there with a solution.”