Steve McNally, center, general manager of Hess Corp. in North Dakota announces how the Alliance pipeline will benefit his company's efforts at shipping natural gas and reducing flaring in the oilfields at a press conference in the state capitol on 10-29 morning in Bismarck. In back are Governor Jack Dalrymple, left, and Terrance Kutryk, CEO of Alliance Pipeline that invested $170 million in the project.

A pipeline in northwest North Dakota has been sitting unused since completion in September, waiting for a gas plant expansion near Tioga to be completed before it starts moving natural gas to market.

Industry officials joined with Gov. Jack Dalrymple to announce the recent completion of an 80-mile gathering line built by Alliance Pipeline.

Construction on the 12-inch pipeline began in October of 2012 and was completed in early September at a cost of approximately $170 million.

“The pipeline is now available for service,” Alliance Pipeline chief executive officer Terrance Kutryk said Tuesday. “(It) provides access to lucrative Midwest markets.”

The pipeline runs from the Hess Corp. gas processing plant near Tioga and connects to the Alliance mainline at a location near Sherwood. The Alliance mainline is more than 2,300 miles and runs from the western British Columbia to a market hub in Chicago.

Steve McNally, Hess Corp.’s general manager for North Dakota, said the company has an contract with Alliance Pipeline for use of half the line’s capacity. The line has a capacity for moving 126 million cubic feet of natural gas per day.

McNally said “nothing’s been through” the pipeline yet and it won’t be utilized until Hess’ gas plant expansion is complete.

“We’ll be opening the plant shortly,” McNally said. He declined specifics on when the plant will open, saying Hess will have more information Wednesday when it releases its latest quarterly report.

The gathering line will be able to move natural gas that includes natural gas liquids such as ethane, propane and butane.

Kutryk declined comment on who else might contract with Alliance to utilize the pipeline’s remaining capacity.

Reach Nick Smith at 250-8255 or 223-8482 or at nick.smith@bismarcktribune.com.