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The North Dakota Public Service Commission approved a natural gas liquids pipeline on Monday, a project commissioners said will provide a safer transportation option and help industry reduce natural gas flaring.

Oneok’s Cherry Creek Pipeline project involves the conversion of about 45 miles of natural gas gathering lines into a natural gas liquids transmission pipeline in northwest North Dakota.

Commissioner Julie Fedorchak said converting the existing pipeline will involve very little construction.

The $1.8 million project will transport up to 50,000 barrels of natural gas liquids from the Lonesome Creek gas processing plant in McKenzie County to the Stateline gas processing plant in Williams County, where it will deliver into the Bakken Pipeline.

“It is far preferable to transport this product by pipeline versus rail or by truck,” Fedorchak said. “This is pretty volatile stuff, it’s the hot ends of the product.”

North Dakota produces more than 400,000 barrels of natural gas liquids per day, said Justin Kringstad, director of the North Dakota Pipeline authority. About 40,000 to 60,000 barrels a day are transported by rail due to insufficient pipeline capacity, Kringstad estimates.

By 2035, North Dakota’s natural gas liquids production is projected to exceed 920,000 barrels per day, Kringstad said.

The Cherry Creek Pipeline is part of “a bigger puzzle to make sure that we can in fact move the liquids from the natural gas processing in the safest and most economical way,” said Commission Chairman Randy Christmann.

Commissioner Brian Kroshus said the project is another important piece of infrastructure that will help companies reduce natural gas flaring.

Commissioners reviewed safety and environmental aspects of the Cherry Creek Pipeline, which was not required to go through the Public Service Commission when it was constructed as a gathering line.

The pipeline crosses the Missouri River and has block valves to the north and south of the river crossing, Fedorchak said. When the pipeline was constructed, the pipeline was installed 118 feet below the bed of the Missouri River using horizontal directional drilling, Fedorchak said.

The pipeline is six river miles from the Williston wellhead protection area, she said.

Oneok also needs the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to revise the permit for the water crossing, Fedorchak said.

Meanwhile, Oneok also is developing the Elk Creek Pipeline, a 900-mile pipeline that will bring natural gas liquids from the Bakken to Bushton, Kan. That project originates in Sidney, Mont., but connects with other Oneok pipelines in northwest North Dakota.

The Elk Creek Pipeline is scheduled to be in service by the end of 2019.

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

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