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Williams County has finalized a no-interest $6 million loan agreement with Cerilon GTL for a $2.8 billion gas-to-liquids plant that is to be built in Trenton.

Construction on the plant is anticipated to begin in 2023. It would start with an initial 24,000 barrels per day of ultra-low sulfur diesel and other specialty products, and have about 80 full-time employees.

The planned location in Trenton would allow for both rail and pipeline access, and the company is exploring carbon sequestration opportunities for its operation as well.

North Dakota has already contributed $3 million in initial development capital for the plant from its Development Fund Board. The loan from Williams County will help the company unlock additional funding sources from North Dakota.

Special Assistant States Attorney Karen Prout outlined the parameters of the county’s loan agreement with Cerilon during the Board of County Commissioners regular meeting on Tuesday.

Prout said the agreement provides for three loan payments of $2 million each. The first would not be disbursed until the company has executed a land purchase agreement, which Prout indicated could happen as soon as today, Tuesday Nov. 16. The second payment would be in March 2022 and the third in July 2022.

Cerilon would repay the loan in quarterly installments once commercial operations begin or after seven years, whichever comes first.

The loan agreement also spells out in more detail what the money may be used for.

“The idea is it’s only supposed to be spent on the project,” Prout said. “The county, under the loan agreement, has the right to demand immediate payment if they file for bankruptcy or a lien is against their assets and some other different things.”

Cerilon will provide Commissioners with regular updates about the project and provide their financial statements as well.

“Cerilon has already agreed to the terms of this loan agreement,” Prout added.

Commissioners unanimously agreed to authorize the Williams County Commission Chairman to sign the agreement.

Meanwhile, the county is working on providing data to the North Dakota Department of Transportation related to highway improvements that may be needed in light of the plant.

“I think with all this development, there is a lot more that’s going to have to be done other than just an overpass,” Commissioner Beau Anderson said.

Among things he would like to see is a traffic reliever route that would bypass Trenton.

“I understand that would be a big deal,” he added. “But I think it’s necessary. That whole area down there is getting inundated with a ridiculous amount of traffic now.”

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