N.D. Opens Soybean Processing Plant for Renewable Diesel Oil

Project Is Joint Venture Between ADM and Marathon Petroleum
Greg Morris of ADM cutting ribbon
Greg Morris, ADM's president of agriculture services and oilseeds business, cuts the ceremonial ribbon as North Dakota Lt. Gov. Tammy Miller and other dignitaries look on. (Marathon Petroleum Corp. via Facebook)

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North Dakota’s renewable diesel industry took a giant leap forward as Lt. Gov. Tammy Miller and business leaders held a ribbon-cutting Nov. 14 opening the state’s first fully dedicated soybean-crushing plant that will make biofuel oil.

The Green Bison Soybean Processing plant is located in a 500-acre industrial park in Spiritwood, 10 miles east of Jamestown along Interstate 94 between Bismarck and Fargo. It is a joint venture between nutrition company ADM (75%), whose headquarters is in Chicago, and Findlay, Ohio-based Marathon Petroleum Corp. (25%).

Marathon Petroleum ranks No. 67 on the Transport Topics Top 100 list of the largest private carriers in North America, and ADM is No. 74.

Miller called the venture a new era for North Dakota’s soybean growers, who usually plant 6 million acres of the crop.

“No longer will they need to ship nearly their entire soybean crop out of state. With this partnership between ADM and Marathon Petroleum, those soybeans will be purchased and processed right here at home, in North Dakota,” she noted. “Processed into valuable soybean meal and into oil for renewable diesel, adding value to both our agriculture and energy industries.”

Among the nation’s top 10 soybean producers, North Dakota has witnessed a dramatic upswing in its soybean output that soared to today’s 191 million bushels annually compared with 3.5 million bushels harvested in 1980, according to the state agriculture department.

Dave Heppner


Dave Heppner, Marathon’s senior vice president of strategy and business development, noted, “Green Bison Soy Processing’s Spiritwood facility is an important milestone in our ability to source and optimize logistically advantaged feedstock for our growing renewable fuels business.”

The North Dakota Soybean Council, formed in 1985, attributed the state’s soybean industry to $4.5 billion in gross business volume, including $300 million from commodity handling, transportation and processing.

The state is poised to become a leading producer of biodiesel and renewable diesel that are important biofuels helping states, particularly California, achieve zero-emission goals. Renewable diesel, made from fats and oils (such as soybean and canola oils), is processed to be chemically identical to petroleum diesel.

“We are deeply grateful for ADM and Marathon’s investment in our economy. We are equally grateful for our farmers, who are the backbone of North Dakota,” Miller stated.

The $350 million Green Bison plant has a processing capacity of 150,000 bushels of soybeans per day and supply vegetable oil as a feedstock for Marathon’s renewable diesel refinery in Dickinson. The plant, which began receiving soybeans in mid-September, is in the commissioning and startup phase of processing soybeans for meal and oil.

Renewable diesel chart

Source: Energy Information Administration

“The continued growth in demand for renewable green diesel presents a transformative opportunity for the oilseed industry, for producers, and for increasing the sustainability footprint of our transportation system, and we’re proud to join with Marathon Petroleum as leaders in that transformation, ” said Greg Morris, president of ADM’s agriculture services and oilseeds business. “Sustainability is one of the enduring trends driving changes in structural global demand, and this investment helps position ADM, as a leader in our industry, to deliver on that demand.

“We’re excited for the start of production and look forward to working together to support sustainable solutions for the food and fuel industries.”

The continued growth in demand for renewable green diesel presents a transformative opportunity for the oilseed industry.

Greg Morris, president of ADM’s agriculture services and oilseeds business

Using local soybeans and advanced automation technology, Green Bison will produce up to 600 million pounds of refined soybean oil annually, with feedstock for 75 million gallons of renewable green diesel per year.

In addition, it will generate nearly 1.3 million tons of soybean meal to support regional animal agriculture production.

Jamestown Mayor Dwaine Heinrich said, “The Green Bison Soy Processing facility creates a wonderful opportunity and lasting benefits for our area farmers and statewide soybean growers. Having two of the most important components of North Dakota’s economy, agriculture and energy, coming together on a project like this is a significant benefit to the city of Jamestown and the surrounding communities.”

He said the joint venture also represents “a significant investment to the community of Spiritwood through job creation.”

The plant has 75 employees and is expected to create hundreds of regional jobs.

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