Building more crude oil, natural gas pipelines in N.D.

BISMARCK This past week the N.D. Industrial Commission sent a letter to federal regulators in support of Enbridge’s proposed 612-mile Sandpiper pipeline that would move North Dakota crude oil to Minnesota and Wisconsin. That action follows the North Dakota Public Service Commission taking comments from the public during a hearing in Minot for the proposed pipeline.

The Sandpiper pipeline is one of several pipeline projects being proposed, under construction or recently completed in North Dakota to transport crude oil or natural gas.

Enbridge is proposing the 299-mile (in North Dakota) pipeline that would carry 225,000 barrels of oil a day from near Tioga across North Dakota to Clearbrook, Minn., where capacity would increase to 375,000 barrels a day. The $2.6 billion pipeline would terminate at Enbridge’s facility in Superior, Wis.

Justin Kringstad, director of the North Dakota Pipeline Authority in Bismarck, said in his Feb. 14 report of production and transportation that an estimated 20 percent of the Williston Basin crude oil is transported by pipeline. The report used December 2013 information, the most recent available.

The remainder of the transportation is:

1 percent by truck to Canadian pipelines.

6 percent to the Tesoro Refinery in Mandan.

An estimated 73 percent by rail.

Besides the Sandpiper project, the proposed Dakota Pipeline, Vantage Pipeline and Alliance Pipeline are also major pipeline projects in North Dakota.

WBI Energy, the pipeline and energy services subsidiary of MDU Resources Group, Inc. announced on Jan. 30 that it was holding an open season for its proposed Dakota Pipeline, a 375-mile natural gas pipeline from western North Dakota to northwestern Minnesota, according to company information.

An open season is a period of time when interested shippers make binding bids for firm transportation capacity on the new pipeline.

With an initial design of 400 million cubic feet per day, it could be expanded to 500 million cubic feet per day. The proposed pipeline would provide access to interconnections with other regional pipelines operated by Great Lakes Gas Transmission Limited Partnership, Viking Gas Transmission Co. and possibly also TransCanada Pipelines, according to MDU Resources Group, Inc., information.

Officials said Dakota Pipeline will reduce the volume of natural gas flaring in North Dakota, among reasons for its construction.

Another project, the Vantage Pipeline, will carry up to 60,000 barrels per day of ethane natural gas from the Hess Corp. gas plant at Tioga, through Saskatchewan to facilities at Empress, Alberta, a 430-mile journey.

The Vantage pipeline received approval from the Canadian National Energy Board on Jan. 19, 2012. The 80-mile leg of the Vantage Pipeline in North Dakota received presidential approval last year.

“The Vantage Pipeline is another major piece of infrastructure that will help us build our North American energy security partnership with our closest friend and ally, Canada, said Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., when announcing the presidential approval for the pipeline project in July 2013.

Hoeven also noted the State Department approved the Vantage pipeline, a major pipeline project, in three years, yet approval for the Keystone XL Pipeline has been delayed for more than five years.

Russ Girling, president and CEO, said last week that he predicted the controversial Keystone XL pipeline will receive President Obama’s approval and be built, according to national news reports.

The Keystone XL Pipeline, a $5.4 billion project, 800-mile phase of the Keystone system, would transport crude oil from Canada to Texas refineries. It would allow Bakken crude from North Dakota and Montana oil fields to be shipped on the system.

Gov. Jack Dalrymple and officials from Alliance Pipeline in late October 2013, celebrated the completion of Alliance’s Tioga Lateral Pipeline, an 80-mile pipeline project.

The pipeline will deliver natural gas that might otherwise be flared in western North Dakota to Alliance’s existing mainline for continued distribution to processing plants and the Chicago-area market hub, according to the Governor’s Office.

“The newly commissioned Tioga Lateral Pipeline will transport rich natural gas, which includes ethane, propane, pentane and butane in the gas stream. The 12-inch pipeline will move natural gas from Hess Corporation’s gas-processing plant near Tioga to a world-scale liquid natural gas fractionation facility in Illinois and to other markets. Alliance plans to contract with other producers to satisfy the pipeline’s capacity to ship about 126 million cubic feet of natural gas per day. Alliance invested about $170 million in the pipeline’s construction which began in October 2012,” a news release from the Governor’s Office said.

The Vantage and Alliance pipelines will come online when the gas plant at Tioga is in operation again, state officials said.

The Tioga facility shut down Nov. 25, 2013, for an expansion into its new plant. Current information was not available from Hess but its website reported in its 2013 fourth quarter report that the company’s Bakken infrastructure investments in 2013 “included the Tioga gas plant expansion project, which is expected to be completed and operational in the first quarter of 2014.”

Two projects for later this year would move crude oil south to the Cushing, Okla., market are the Butte Pipeline and the Hiland Double H Pipeline, Kringstad said.

The Butte Pipeline, a True Companies of Casper, Wyo., project, starts near Baker, Mont., and will connect to other pipelines in North Dakota.

The Hiland Double H Pipeline, owned by Hiland, starts at the northwest edge of North Dakota.

Two pipeline projects that were proposed in approximately the past two years were canceled because they did not receive sufficient shipping support, Kringstad said.

Both Koch Pipeline and Oneok Partners canceled plans for their proposed pipelines.