Red Trail Energy to begin drilling well for carbon sequestration

By Office of Sen. John Hoeven | March 12, 2020

Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., announced March 11 that Red Trail Energy will begin the drilling of a stratigraphic well, designed with the intent to be permitted as a Class VI injection well and used to sequester carbon dioxide (CO2) from the company’s ethanol plant in Richardton, North Dakota. The drill pad for the well is already complete, and drilling is expected to begin in early April. The injection well will extend more than a mile underground, with drilling taking approximately 23 days and involving the collection of multiple core samples, sealing the well walls with concrete and a nickel casing and installing an array of sensors to monitor temperature and pressure, among other things.

The capture and storage of CO2 will enable the facility to sell to states with low carbon fuel standards, like California and those in the Pacific Northwest, ensuring a broader market for the company’s product. The project is able to move forward due to Hoeven’s efforts to secure final approval for North Dakota’s regulatory primacy over Class VI injection wells, which are used for geologic or long-term storage of CO2, the first such approval in the nation. Hoeven’s efforts include:

    •Establishing the North Dakota COStorage Workgroup in 2008, during his time as governor.

    •Helping advance a bill through the state legislature to create a regulatory framework for carbon sequestration under the North Dakota Industrial Commission.

    •As U.S. Senator, moving the state’s application for regulatory primacy forward at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and successfully pressing for its approval.

“Our efforts to advance the development of commercially-viable carbon capture technologies benefit both traditional energy producers and renewable energy, giving companies like Red Trail Energy access to new markets by leveraging their work to capture and store CO2,” said Hoeven. “This means better prices for ethanol producers as well as farmers, all while empowering greater energy production with fewer emissions. That’s exactly why we worked to secure North Dakota’s primacy over regulating Class VI wells, while also advancing the 45Q tax credit for project developers and supporting the EERC and its partners as they research, test and implement CCUS.”

“Senator Hoeven has been instrumental in passing legislation that allows Red Trail Energy to move forward with the commercialization of carbon capture and storage technologies,” said Gerald Bachmeier, Red Trail Energy’s CEO. “Senator Hoeven has paved the way for companies like ours to lower the carbon footprint of our ethanol, which will allow the long-term viability of our company”.

In addition, Hoeven has worked through his roles on the Senate Energy Committee and Energy and Water Appropriations Committee to advance the research and development of carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS) technology. This includes ensuring strong federal support for the work of the University of North Dakota’s Energy and Environmental Research Center (EERC). Among other things, Hoeven has supported:

  • The 45Q tax credit, which will benefit CCUS projects, like at Red Trail Energy’s ethanol plant.
    • Hoeven supported the passage of legislation to reform and expand the 45Q tax credit and has been urging the administration to release the final regulations to implement the credit, two of which were issued last month, providing greater clarity to developers of CCUS projects.
    • The senator continues pressing the Department of the Treasury for the third and final piece of the 45Q rules as soon as possible and to ensure the tax credit works for both long-term storage and enhanced oil and gas recovery, similar to his CO2 Regulatory Certainty Act.
  • The Plains Carbon Dioxide Reduction (PCOR) Partnership, which is led by the EERC and includes Red Trail Energy as a partner.
  • The CarbonSAFE Initiative, a Department of Energy program to support the development of commercial-scale CO2 storage facilities, an essential element of Red Trail’s project and other efforts. 
    • Hoeven secured $30 million for CarbonSAFE in Fiscal Year 2020.