The North Dakota Public Service Commission has approved two large oil and gas projects, one that will help reduce flaring in the Fort Berthold area and the other to help meet demand for diesel fuel while upgrading pipeline safety.

The two projects were approved Wednesday at a meeting of the Commission in Bismarck.

The first project was for Cenex, a farmer-owned cooperative that provides gasoline and diesel fuel to member owners and other customers in the region. The other was the Arrow Bear Den Gas processing plant near Watford City and Fort Berthold, which has been a trouble spot for excessive flaring.

Cenex wants to replace and reroute a portion of a decades-old pipeline that runs from Laurel, Montana to Fargo, while Arrow proposed building a new, larger plant near an existing plant.

The two gas plants would operate independently, and together dramatically increase gas processing ability in that area. The new plant could process 120 million cubic feet of gas per day at maximum capacity, while the old plant will still be able to do 30 million. The additional capacity will help increase gas capture in that area, reducing the need to flare.

The portion of the Cenex line that is being replaced will start near Sidney and end near Minot.

The pipeline’s size will increase from 8 inches to 10, adding more capacity to that portion of the pipeline. The need for more capacity was cited as the reason for the project.

The company also noted, on its website, that it has been upgrading portions of the Laurel to Fargo line on a regular basis, and this upgrade is part of that.

The existing pipeline now crosses under the Yellowstone River near Sidney before turning east to Minot, and also crosses sensitive areas like U.S. Forest land and the Fort Berthold Indian reservation.

The new route will instead cross the Missouri river in Montana before heading east to Minot. It will enter North Dakota 5.8 miles north of Fort Buford, running north of Williston but south of Ray and Tioga.

Company officials have said the new route was chosen to minimize construction in sensitive areas, and to avoid difficult river crossings and other land use challenges. Sending the pipeline through lands held by private owners will also eliminate the need for periodic reauthorization.

About 150 miles of the 182-miles project are in the North Dakota counties Williams, Mountrail and Ward, and will cost an estimated $115 million.

The company had requested an expedited process, with the hope of completing their project sometime in the fall of this year. The line will be hydro-tested before being placed in service, which is estimated to be December of this year.



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