oil well file photo

An oil pump jack works at a North Dakota oil well site.

A natural gas pipeline proposed in northwest North Dakota would cross the Missouri River and the Lake Sakakawea reservoir.

Representatives from Kinder Morgan are meeting with local residents this week to get input on the 10-mile pipeline while the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reviews a permit application.

The project, which would go beneath the Missouri River for about 2.5 miles in Williams and McKenzie counties, aims to capture natural gas that would otherwise be flared due to insufficient pipeline capacity.

The water crossing would be constructed using horizontal directional drilling, with the pipe installed at least 140 feet below the bottom of the reservoir, said Allen Fore, vice president of public affairs for Kinder Morgan.

“It’s the least impactful way to cross any kind of environmentally sensitive area, particularly water bodies, because you never impact the water body itself. You’re drilling underneath it,” Fore said.

The corps is the lead federal agency reviewing the water crossing, a process the company anticipates will take several months.

The $30 million project would connect the existing Kinder Morgan Brogger compressor station in Williams County to the company’s natural gas gathering system in McKenzie County.

The project is estimated to capture about 130 million cubic feet per day of natural gas.

North Dakota oil and gas producers flared about 388 million cubic feet per day of natural gas in June due to insufficient pipeline capacity, processing plants and other infrastructure.

Justin Kringstad, director of the North Dakota Pipeline Authority, said operators have been challenged to capture gas in McKenzie County, where wells tend to produce more gas. An uptick in oil activity in Williams County in recent months has increased pressure on infrastructure there, Kringstad said.

Kinder Morgan considered alternative routes, but concluded the one being proposed has the least impact to the environment and landowners, Fore said.

Contractors would drill below the river starting 1,000 to 2,000 feet away from the banks of the reservoir. No construction or ground disturbance is planned on corps land.

Kinder Morgan held open houses on the project this week in Williston and Watford City. The company said in its presentation that Native American tribes were consulted about the project.

The 16-inch diameter steel pipeline would be monitored remotely at a control center in Houston around the clock, Fore said. Operations personnel in North Dakota receive immediate notification about any issues with the pipeline, he said.

The project, an expansion of Kinder Morgan’s gathering pipeline system,  would be regulated by the North Dakota Industrial Commission. It also requires oversight of other state and federal agencies.

Depending on the timing of regulatory approvals, the company aims to start construction next summer with completion set for the end of 2019.

Meanwhile, Kinder Morgan also proposes to expand the Roosevelt Gas Plant in McKenzie County, increasing the capacity to process up to 200 million cubic feet per day.

The North Dakota Public Service Commission will hold a public hearing on the gas plant at 10 a.m. Sept. 27 at Teddy’s Residential Suites, Watford City.

Fore said the pipeline and the gas plant expansion are separate projects, but the gas plant would be one destination for gas transported by the proposed pipeline.

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(Reach Amy Dalrymple at 701-250-8267 or Amy.Dalrymple@bismarcktribune.com)

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