Work was underway in July to install a natural gas liquids pipeline southwest of Belfield. The project will connect with a pipeline approved Wednesday by the Public Service Commission.

The conversion of a crude oil pipeline to transport natural gas liquids from the heart of the Bakken was approved Wednesday by the North Dakota Public Service Commission.

The three-member commission gave unanimous approval to Andeavor Logistics to convert 42 miles of the BakkenLink pipeline, which was originally approved in 2012 to transport crude oil.

The company requested to convert a portion of the pipeline to transport natural gas liquids. North Dakota’s production of natural gas liquids is growing, but the state lacks sufficient pipeline capacity.

“It’s good to see this pipeline that was in the ground being put to its most efficient use,” said Commissioner Julie Fedorchak.

Andeavor previously received permission from the PSC to construct about 44 miles of new natural gas liquids pipelines in McKenzie, Billings and Stark counties that are associated with the converted pipeline.

The pipeline system will transport mixed natural gas liquids from the Watford City area to an Andeavor gas processing plant near Belfield, where the liquids will be separated into products such as ethane, propane, butane and natural gasoline.

The products would then be transported by pipeline to the Andeavor Fryburg Rail Terminal and loaded onto rail cars.

North Dakota produces about 450,000 barrels of natural gas liquids per day, said Justin Kringstad, director of the North Dakota Pipeline Authority.

The state has pipeline capacity to transport about 400,000 barrels per day of natural gas liquids, with the rest shipping by rail, Kringstad said.

Natural gas liquids production is projected to keep growing in North Dakota, ranging from 800,000 to 1 million barrels per day by the 2030s, according to Kringstad.

Andeavor previously said in a news release that partial operations of the pipeline system are expected to begin in late 2018 with full operations starting in early 2019.

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