Hennen: There is a new Bakken Boom

A $2.8 billion investment in Trenton, N.D., is the latest example.

Scott Hennen.jpg
Columnist Scott Hennen
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There is a different kind of "Bakken Boom" that is happening in North Dakota these days. It's building a better future for every corner of the Peace Garden state.

I'm writing this week's column in Trenton, a community of just 360 residents in northwest Williams County. I'm here for the North Dakota Petroleum Council’s annual Bakken Rocks CookFest.

Ron Ness is the president of the NDPC.

“Cookfest is done in appreciation to the people in the communities where oil and gas activity is taking place,” Ness said. CookFest brings industry and communities together for food and fun.

One of this years industry participants was Cerilon. Led by Nico Duursema, the organization is investing $2.8 billion in a gas-to-liquids project here. Cerilon GTL is developing a large-scale, low carbon emission gas-to-liquids facility. The company looked at sites in Oklahoma, Louisiana and Alberta but decided on North Dakota. Why North Dakota? He says the answer is simple: “North Dakota really stepped up with a strategic vision and said, ‘Let’s come and do it.’”


Duursema says North Dakota got his attention because of its shared values with the company.

"The project will support a robust energy sector in North Dakota by using existing and future natural gas supply to generate environmentally friendly transportation fuels and products. Cerilon values ownership, leadership, and stewardship: ownership of challenges and opportunities; courageous leadership to make a difference; and the stewardship of all we have for the generations to come. We have seen that in the people of North Dakota. You share these values and we are excited to be developing our first facility here."

The primary outputs of the phase one facility will consist of 24,000 barrels per day of ultra-low sulfur diesel and other specialty products. All products are in high demand, and the operations will support the growth of natural gas production in North Dakota while also assisting in meeting Gov. Doug Burgum's challenge to make North Dakota carbon neutral by 2030. The site would also have the option of carbon capture.

“With carbon capture, that is giving you a beautiful opportunity to make this the lowest carbon footprint GTL facility in the world,” Duursema said. By 2050, 20 million barrels of oil will be needed for energy. Renewables account for approximately three to four million. “And the balance is what you need to fill the gap with,” Duursema said. While oil production will continue, GTL could be looked upon to fill the space, making it a green transition energy.

North Dakota has a big future in the petrochemical space, he said.

“You need to take the steps now to be able to benefit for the future generations to come," he said.

Cerilon is one of several great projects happening in our state – and is a project that is sure to make the lives of future generations of North Dakotans the best they truly can be.

To Nico and the Cerilon team: Welcome to North Dakota!


Scott Hennen hosts the statewide radio program “What’s On Your Mind?” On AM 1100 “The Flag”, KFYR AM 550, AM 1090 KTGO “The Flag” and AM 1460 KLTC. Email him at

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Forum's editorial board nor Forum ownership.

The time has come for a hard stop

Opinion by Scott Hennen
Scott Hennen hosts the statewide radio program “What’s On Your Mind?” On AM 1100 “The Flag”, KFYR AM 550, AM 1090 KTGO “The Flag” and AM 1460 KLTC. Email him at

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