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A natural gas processing plant that was shut down due to a fire on Sunday morning is already back in operation.

Stephanie Higgins, a spokesperson for the company, said the plant resumed normal operation Tuesday night.

“The fire was exclusively limited to a single utility building associated with our de-ethanizer plant,” she said.

More inside

However, that doesn’t mean the Stateline plant is at full capacity yet. That’s because the company had already started a scheduled maintenance project at the facility on Monday. That will affect a portion of the plant’s gas processing capacity for the next 10 to 11 days, Higgins said.

She did not respond to inquiries for further information as to what that would mean as far as flaring limits. State regulators also did not immediately respond to inquiries about that Wednesday afternoon.

The state has been close to exceeding flaring limits several times this year.

Pipeline Authority Justin Kringstad said Monday that unexpected disruptions are a potential concern.

“With growing volumes of natural gas in the region, access to adequate gas processing facilities is critical,” he said. “Unexpected disruptions at any of the plants will have an immediate impact on producers’ ability to meet gas capture targets.”

The fire on Sunday happened at about 9 a.m. and resulted in evacuation of the facility.

Williston Rural Fire Department, who was on the scene of the fire on Sunday, said damage from the fire was contained to ONEOK’s property, and that it did not force the evacuation of private residences.

His department and other emergency service personnel established a 1-mile perimeter around the scene while the fire was allowed to burn down, so that motorists could not inadvertently enter the scene.

Williston had about 15 firefighters on standby at the scene for about four hours on Sunday, just in case the fire escaped containment procedures ONEOK has in place to control a fire.

Williston Rural Fire Chief David Benth was on the scene. He said the department brought with it equipment that would have been necessary to fight such a fire. That was purchased using the countywide 1-percent safety tax.

It wasn’t needed this time, but was available just in case.

“ONEOK and its employees did a very good job,” Benth said. “Their safety plan and safety devices worked great. Their personnel evacuated the facility and followed their procedures to a T.”

The Stateline gas plant was completed in April 2013 as part of a $4.7 billion capital growth program to increase NGL takeaway in the Bakken and help reduce flaring in the region.

More recently, the company had requested permission to convert a Stateline gas gathering line into an NGL transmission line called Cherry Creek. The converted line is to run from the newly constructed Lonesome Creek plant to Stateline, which is located just north of U.S. Highway 2 in Williams County, near the Montana border.

The proposed project is part of continued efforts to meet the state’s flaring limits, as well as increase NGL takeaway, by solving a bottleneck issue in the area. The PSC approved the project in May, and it was expected to begin operation in May 2019.

ONEOK Partners is the largest independent operator of natural gas gathering and processing facilities in the Williston Basin, with a natural gas gathering system of more than 6,900 miles and acreage dedications totaling about 3 million acres.

The company operates nine processing plants in western North Dakota and eastern Montana, and had recently announced construction of a new plant, Demick’s Lake, in McKenzie County, as well as construction of a 900-mile, 20-inch diameter pipeline called Elk Creek to take up to 240,000 barrels per day of NGLS away from its Riverview terminal in eastern Montana to a facility in Bushton, Kansas.

These upgrades were all part of $3 billion in projected capital growth projects the company had announced earlier this year.

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