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.
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“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.