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PSC delays action on pipeline siting

PSC delays action on pipeline siting

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The North Dakota Public Service Commission is delaying a decision on an application for a natural gas pipeline site involving a company that was operating without a permit.

Commissioner Julie Fedorchak asked that a decision on the siting application for a 6.5-mile natural gas pipeline in Burke County be delayed until the commission’s Dec. 18 meeting. All three members of the commission voted for the delay.

The 6-inch pipeline is owned by Enid, Okla.-based Hiland Operating, LLC. It begins at the Norse Gas Plant west of Powers Lake and ties into a WBI Energy transmission line.

The transmission pipeline, completed in 2010, had been operating without a permit before the company brought it to the commission’s attention in May 2012.

Under state law, willfully beginning construction of a transmission line without a permit is a Class A misdemeanor. It can bring a civil penalty of up to $10,000 per day per violation, not to exceed $200,000 total.

Fedorchak said the company may not have been aware that the line qualifies as a transmission line. She said no decision has been made yet about whether the company will be penalized.

“The fact that they came forward … that in my mind says a lot about the company,” Fedorchak said.

Commission Chairman Brian Kalk said transmission lines differ from gathering lines in that they carry more material at a higher pressure.

“They (the company) thought it was a gathering line,” Kalk said.

He said after Hiland Operating notified the PSC, it allowed the normal permitting process to begin.

Kalk said he could only recall such an issue with a pipeline happening one other time since being elected to the commission in 2008.

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

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