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Oneok seeks to expand capacity of natural gas liquids pipeline

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Oneok NGL pipelines

Oneok pipelines, pictured at this site in southeastern Montana in the summer of 2020, transport Bakken natural gas liquids to market. The company has several major transmission lines that carry the liquids from eastern Montana to Kansas.

Oneok seeks to expand the capacity of a natural gas liquids pipeline that connects to its Bear Creek gas processing plant near Halliday in Dunn County.

The company wants to add two pump stations to boost horsepower along the Bear Creek NGL Pipeline, which currently carries up to 15,000 barrels per day from the plant to another pipeline in McKenzie County. The proposed stations would allow the line to transport up to 80,000 barrels per day.

The company seeks a permit from the North Dakota Public Service Commission, as the two pump stations would fall outside the pipeline’s existing corridor.

One of the new stations would be located on a 5-acre parcel of land leased by Oneok 8 miles southeast of Watford City. The other would be built on 7 acres of leased land 18 miles northwest of Killdeer, according to the application Oneok filed with the PSC earlier this year.

The pipeline spans 38 miles and was built in 2016. Its maximum operating pressure would remain the same under the expansion, the company said in its application.

Natural gas liquids, which are shipped through the pipeline, are isolated from raw natural gas at processing plants. They contain components of the gas such as ethane, butane and propane, which exist in liquid form under certain pressures and temperatures.

The liquids would ultimately be shipped via Oneok’s Bakken and Elk Creek pipelines, which run from eastern Montana to Kansas, company spokesman Brad Borror said.

The pipeline expansion is separate from a planned expansion of the Bear Creek processing plant, which was put on hold earlier this year due to changing market conditions and customer needs, he said. Oneok remains “in close contact” with Bakken oil and gas producers as they develop future plans, he said.

Many oil and gas projects have been halted or canceled in 2020 after the price of oil collapsed this spring in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic.

At Wednesday’s PSC meeting, Commissioner Julie Fedorchak said Oneok put the brakes on its Bear Creek NGL Pipeline expansion earlier this year, but the company now hopes to move forward.

Oneok’s desire to expand the pipeline now indicates the company is “seeing production up to warrant the need for this, and that’s good news,” Fedorchak said. She added that expanded pipeline capacity will help reduce flaring of excess natural gas in the Bakken.

The PSC is accepting requests for a hearing on the project through Jan. 1.

The commission on Wednesday also dealt with another pipeline project, allowing BOE Pipeline another four years to build a 42-mile oil pipeline proposed for Dunn and McKenzie counties.

The PSC approved a permit for the project in 2016, but the company never built the line. Commission permits expire after four years.

Reach Amy R. Sisk at 701-250-8252 or amy.sisk@bismarcktribune.com.

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