Murphy’s Law #61

August 16, 2018

The newest employee of the North Dakota Soybean Council, Harrison Weber (way tall) and I (way short) trundled across the state on Monday, August 13th to make an appearance at the open house for the Dickinson Refinery Renewable Diesel Project which is being undertaken by Andeavor. This is the company that also bought and operates the larger and older oil refinery in Mandan along the river. This refinery in Dickinson is only a few years old and they are refitting it to handle vegetable oils that will be transformed into renewable diesel. The largest portion of their feed stock would probably be soybean oil along with some distiller’s corn and others.

According to the Andeavor info handout, renewable diesel is not biodiesel. Biodiesel is produced by reacting oil with methanol which results in a methyl ester (not looking that one up). Glycerin is produced as a byproduct. Renewable diesel is produced by reacting oil with hydrogen which removes all oxygen from the oil. Propane and water are produced as byproducts. They state that renewable diesel is typically superior to conventional diesel, including higher cetane (whatever that is) and providing value through blending flexibility as well as customer preference. Anyway, the main point here seems to me that this opportunity to send Andeavor soybean oil from the proposed crush plant at Spiritwood amounts to synergy making both propositions more attractive. Ron Day is their main man in both Bismarck and Dickinson and is the guy who has been the government and public affairs honcho for many years as I knew him from touring both facilities back in the day. California is the target for the whole batch which would be coming from 12,000 barrels per day of vegetable oil. The crush plant as currently proposed would be able to send somewhat less than half of the oil they need each day as I understand it. 2020 is currently go time for that project.