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Whiting Oil and Gas is seeking permission to expand its Lake Robinson Oil Conditioning Facility from 45,000 barrels per day to 65,000 barrels of crude per day.

The $6 million facility is located 7.9 miles northeast of New Town in Mountrail County on a 5-acre parcel owned by Whiting and serves production from the company’s Sanish Field.

Whiting Director of Communications and Corporate Affairs Ashley McNamee said the company plans to continue developing the Sanish field, and that necessitates expanding the oil and gas facility, which is the only oil gathering system it operates in North Dakota.

The facility conditions crude oil at a central location using heat to reduce natural gas liquids and achieve the state’s required vapor pressure standards prior to delivering it to out-of-state markets by pipeline.

The facility was built in August 2017 and placed into service December of the same year. Companies more usually treat oil as it comes out of the ground, rather than at a centralized location, making this type of facility uncommon.

A public hearing has been set to consider the oil conditioning facility’s proposed expansion, which will involve adding more heaters, pumps, and control valves to gain 20,000 barrels per day of additional processing capacity.

That hearing is 10 a.m. March 30 at Teddy’s Residential Suites, located at 951 Eagle Drive in New Town.

The Public Service Commission is required to look at three things when it comes to energy and utilities projects. First, whether the project could have any adverse effect on the environment and welfare of citizens in North Dakota, second whether the proposed expansion is compatible with environmental preservation and efficient use of resources, and third whether it meets energy needs in an orderly and timely fashion.

The meeting is open to the public, and public comments for and against the proposed project can be entered into the record at that time. Those needing auxiliary aides or services should notify the PSC at least 24 hours in advance of the hearing so that those needs can be accommodated.

In its application materials, Whiting said increased production in the Williston Basin is driving a need for more crude oil conditioning in general, and at the acreage dedicated to the Robinson Lake Oil Gathering System in particular.

The expansion Whiting is proposing will not exceed the footprint of its existing crude oil conditioning plant.

Most of the labor to build the plant will be from out-of-state, though Whiting said its primary contractor would use local labor when possible. The estimated cost of the expansion is $1.2 million.

Whiting hopes to begin construction in the spring and be operational by July, contingent on receipt of all applicable regulatory approvals.

The facility would begin operating at 55,000 barrels per day the first year. It would reach full capacity at the end of 2021.

Whiting Oil and Gas, headquartered in Denver, is one of the largest independent exploration and production companies in the United States. Its $6 billion acquisition of the Kodiak Oil & Gas Corporation in 2014 gave it one of the largest acreage positions in the Bakken/Three Forks, where it holds 473,781 net acres.

Many of those acres are situated in core areas of the Williston Basin.

Whiting was listed as running four rigs by the Division of Oil and Gas as of Feb. 7, and is consistently listed as one of North Dakota’s top five producers, along with Continental, Hess and XTO (Exxon). It employs 220 people statewide.

The company also holds 86,532 net acres in the DJ Basin of Colorado.

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