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MDU Resources Group Inc. annual profits down 2015; hurt by losses at its North Dakota refinery, warmer winter weather

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BISMARCK, North Dakota — The Bismarck-based MDU Resources Group Inc. has reported a decrease in profits for 2015 due to losses at its North Dakota refinery and warmer winter weather that cut natural gas and electricity sales.

The energy, mining and construction company said late Wednesday that its profits for ongoing operations in 2015 were $180 million, down from $205.5 million in 2014.

"I am not satisfied with our overall earnings performance," MDU Resources President and CEO David Goodin said in a statement.

One highlight Goodin noted was the company's construction businesses, which had record earnings of $115.8 million, up from $114.4 million in 2014.

MDU Resources and Indianapolis-based Calumet Specialty Products Partners' $430 million Dakota Prairie Refinery near Dickinson began selling fuel in May but has lost money due to low fuel prices and a slowdown in North Dakota oil activity.

MDU spokeswoman Laura Lueder said its share of the loss was $20.5 million in 2015.

Combined with low demand, the refinery also experienced "down time and equipment challenges" last year, she said. "The refinery was a challenge," she said.

The company last year also delayed plans for a second diesel factory in the Minot area for similar reasons that contributed to the Dickinson plant's problems.

MDU is the parent company of Montana-Dakota Utilities, whose eight-state service area includes the Dakotas, Minnesota, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Washington and Oregon. The utility said warmer-than-normal temperatures decreased natural gas and electricity sales by $7.2 million last year, to $59.5 million.

MDU Resources said it has nearly completed the sale of its oil and gas exploration subsidiary, Fidelity Exploration and Production Co. When complete, the sale is expected to be worth about $450 million.

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