Jennifer Pallanich, senior technology editor, Hart Energy: I am here with James Powell, the COO of Summit Carbon Solutions, and we're going to talk about the Midwest Carbon Express. So James, tell me what is the current status of the project?
James "Jimmy" Powell, COO, Summit Carbon Solutions: Hi, Jennifer. So we are almost two years into the project. Engineering design is nearing completion. Right away, acquisition is about 80% complete. We've had permits underway for almost a year. So, by the end of this year, we expect to have all permits, state and federal. We expect to be at a place from a right away acquisition perspective, where we're more like the conventional FID.
Pallanich: Okay. All right. And so the next steps then would be…?
Powell: So then we go to construction in… April '24 with a completion of early [April] '25.
Pallanich: Okay. All right. And so I understand that there are other phases of this project and you're not approaching them in the way that maybe others would approach them. Tell me about this different approach.
Powell: Well, there's two aspects to it. So one aspect is my experiences with other operators, some large operators. And so you would essentially conceptualize the project, seek FID, or final investment decision, and then you would go out and start spending money, significant money. We've approached it somewhat different, and that's because we wanted to be the first mover into the market. So there are other competing projects in the upper Midwest, but we're going to spend about a billion dollars on the front of this project before we have permits in hand and be at a point where you would be at your conventional FID. But in doing that, we've already secured contracts with 32 ethanol plants. We've got others that are in the queue, and so we think that we're designing it for 18 million tons. We have 10 million tons currently under contract, so we have capacity to upsize to take on more shippers as a common carrier. We think that opportunity's definitely there.
Pallanich: All right. So that little bit of risk for quite a bit of reward.
Powell: Well, as we discussed earlier, we've got some heavyweight investors on board, one being Continental Resources, and others. And so they're right there with us willing to take the risk, but we think it's a calculated risk. So obviously we've done our homework on what it takes to get a permit approved in the states that we plan to construct. We've looked at the statutory requirements and we think we can satisfy those. So we think it is a risk, and it's really a risk around schedule. How long does it take the size and scale of this project? What we found to this point, it can paralyze someone, sometimes myself. It can paralyze you. So, a state agency who's approved energy transfers to Dakota Access, for instance, in Iowa where they have 340 miles of pipe. We have 685 miles of pipe in Iowa, so into your Iowa Utility Board, and you've got their technical staff that reviews an application, that's a daunting challenge for them. And so working with them to try to expedite that to the extent we can. That's helpful.
Pallanich: That makes sense. All right. And so is there anything that I should be asking you?
Powell: Can we do it?
Pallanich: Okay. So can you carry this off?
Powell: We can. So it's like any major project. It's a $5.5 billion project. We have good days and bad days, but you know, we're at a point now where I think, especially with the agencies and stakeholders and landowners in the five states that we plan to construct, we've got a level of credibility now. We've acquired, you know, almost 80% of the right of way. We're welling, the permanent application process is very mature. We're going through hearings right now in North Dakota, the final hearing is next week. And so I think now a lot of people have said, “okay, this is going to happen. How can we work with this company to make sure that we get the best deal for ourselves as individuals or as a state or as a county?”
Pallanich: All right. Well, thank you so much for sharing your insights and how you're approaching this project.
Powell: Thanks, Jennifer.
Pallanich: For more, check out hartenergy.com.
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