The North Dakota Public Service Commission gave the green light Wednesday for a short ethane pipeline project in western North Dakota.

The three-member commission unanimously approved the project submitted by Vantage Pipeline US LP. The company is going to build an 8-inch, 47-mile pipeline called the West Spur Pipeline project for an estimated cost of $20 million. 

The West Spur Pipeline project would transport ethane from Oneok’s Stateline II natural gas processing plant west of Williston to an existing pipeline system near Tioga. The existing pipeline transports ethane to a facility in Alberta, Canada.

Commission chairwoman Julie Fedorchak said the pipeline would have a maximum capacity of 30,000 barrels per day of ethane, but probably would be operating at about 26,000 barrels per day.

Though the pipeline project doesn’t reduce flaring of natural gas, it provides additional infrastructure to efficiently move natural gas liquids already being processed, Fedorchak said.

“It’s an important part of the long-term solution,” said Fedorchak, adding that she was pleased Vantage Pipeline “had 100 percent of the easements” secured before a hearing on the project last month.

Fedorchak said natural gas liquids, such as ethane, provide extra value for producers.

“This is the type of thing we’re hoping to see feed a North Dakota facility in the future,” Fedorchak said.

Work on the project is expected to begin this fall, with plans to have the pipeline in operation next year.

In other business, the PSC set a meeting date for a project by a company looking to convert a crude oil gathering pipeline into a transmission line.

Enid, Okla.-based Hiland Crude LLC is proposing to convert an 8-inch, 4.5-mile pipeline from a crude oil gathering line to a transmission line. The line, known as the Alexander Tank Farm Crude Oil Pipeline, is located in McKenzie County.

The pipeline begins about 5 miles north-northwest of Alexander at the company’s Alexander Station and ends at an interconnect, which feeds into the larger Market Center System.

Fedorchak said the project would provide pipeline access from the company’s tank farm to the pipeline system to more efficiently move product to other markets.

The meeting was set for 9 a.m. Oct. 7 at Teddy’s Residential Suites in Watford City.

(Reach Nick Smith at 701-250-8255 or 701-223-8482 or at nick.smith@bismarcktribune.com.)

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