DICKINSON, N.D. (AP) — The owner of a small crude oil refinery in North Dakota is seeking to convert the facility to process vegetable oil into renewable diesel instead of continuing to make petroleum.

The Andeavor Dickinson Refinery applied for an air quality permit from the state Department of Health to process locally produced soybean oil and other renewable feedstocks, The Bismarck Tribune reported . The refinery plans to export the renewable diesel to California, where it's in high demand.

The proposal builds on a pilot project at the refinery that processes vegetable oil and Bakken crude to create a 5 percent renewable diesel blend, said Destin Singleton, an Andeavor spokeswoman. It would involve processing only vegetable oil feedstocks to create the diesel product.

"We're seeing that the technology is working and we believe this conversion will be an effective value-driver for both us and the state," Singleton said.

Andeavor officials declined to disclose the cost of the project, which is expected to be completed in 2020 if it's approved.

Much of the refinery's equipment would be repurposed and the facility's footprint isn't expected to change, said David Stroh, an environmental engineer with the Division of Air Quality.

The project is exciting in terms of investment and creating another market for agriculture products, said Shawn Kessel, deputy director for the North Dakota Department of Commerce.

"This seems to solidify the plant's future as a renewable producer in North Dakota," Kessel said.

The refinery plans to hold an open house about the proposal on Aug. 13 in Dickinson.

The health department started taking public comments on the plan Wednesday. State regulators plan to make a final decision on the permit after the comment period ends in about 30 days.

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Information from: Bismarck Tribune, http://www.bismarcktribune.com