First New American Refinery in Decades Opens in Dickinson

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"Two years ago there was nothing out here but a big hole in the ground," said Dakota Prairie Refinery manager Dave Podratz.

As the manager of the Dakota Prairie Refinery, today is a big day for Podratz.

"We just finished producing our first batch of diesel," he said.

The refinery just west of Dickinson will take in 20,000 barrels of crude oil each day and make 7,000 barrels of diesel fuel out of it.

"To have it built in North Dakota is really neat, because we have the crude oil local, we have the big demand for diesel local," Podratz said. "It's just the perfect spot for a plant like this."

It's also the first refinery to be built in the United States since the 70s.

After being produced, the plant's manager says the diesel will stay close to the refinery.

After overcoming construction challenges, workers can now ramp up production.

"We're a little over 50 percent capacity over the next few days," Podratz said. "We'll be ramping that up trying to get up to the designed rate."

The estimated cost to build the plant ranges up to $435 million and will staff 80 full-time employees.