The Bakken shale truly represents a “back to the future” scenario for the U.S. oil industry. Just a few short years ago, this term was widely believed to be as retro as an eight-track tape. In fact, the last time the U.S. built a new oil refinery was in 1976—right around the time that technology was still considered viable.

While the eight-track won’t be making a comeback anytime soon, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said U.S. oil production reached a 15-year high in 2012 thanks to a 153-year high in annual output growth.

This growth has also created a resurgence in the crude refining industry with groundbreaking occurring in March 2013 on the first new U.S.-based refinery since Marathon Oil’s Garyville, Louisiana, facility.

Although the Gulf Coast remains the epicenter of much of the U.S. energy industry’s processing and refining infrastructure, the Bakken shale is leading the oil renaissance. Unsurprisingly, this region is also home to this new $300 million refinery on a 318-acre site in Dickinson, North Dakota. This facility is being developed by Dakota Prairie Refining, a joint venture between MDU Resources and Calumet Specialty Products Partners.

The refinery, which is expected to complete construction by the end of 2014, will have the capacity to produce 20,000 barrels (bbl.) of crude per day along with 7,000 bbl. of ultralow-sulfur diesel.

While speaking at Hart Energy’s recent DUG Bakken and Niobrara conference in Denver, Colorado, Paul Hopfauf, vice president, business development at WDU Resources’ WBI Energy subsidiary, noted that MDU’s strong presence in North Dakota was one of the keys to getting a permit for the project.

This diversification includes interests in E&P, pipeline, utilities and construction and nearly all segments of the company’s portfolio will be utilized in this project. “This will be a vertically integrated business model with expertise from wellhead to burner tip,” he said.

This will tie in with Calumet’s refining experience as the company has a growing presence in the U.S. with refineries in Great Falls, Montana; Superior, Wisconsin; Louisiana, Missouri; Karns City, Pennsylvania; three Shreveport, Louisiana, refineries; San Antonio, Texas; and Dickinson, Texas. The company also has a blending and packaging facility in Shreveport along with terminals in Tooele, Utah; Crookston, Minnesota; three in Duluth, Minnesota; Superior, Wisconsin; Rhinelander, Wisconsin; and Burnham, Illinois.

“This is a value-added process that will provide an alternative market for North Dakota crude by turning locally produced crude from the Bakken into a local diesel market,” Hopfauf said.

Contact the author, Frank Nieto, at