North Dakota's Bakken core to get additional pipeline

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A large portion of constrained gas in the core of the Bakken will be getting an outlet soon, with a vital project proposed by MDU subsidiary WBI Energy.

The company is proposing to build 67 miles of new pipeline in the area, which will take at least 200 million cubic feet per day of processed gas to market. That amount could even be expanded to 375 million cubic feet per day, if warranted.

The North Bakken Expansion Project will cost $220 million and includes a 20-inch diameter pipeline and two associated compressor facilities.

The final route of the proposed pipeline will depend on the details of shipping agreements, solicited during an open season, which are still being finalized. However, the start point will be near Tioga, and the end point will be a new connection with the Northern Border pipeline in McKenzie County.

Northern Border is operated by TransCanada and jointly owned through a general partnership with ONEOK and TC Pipelines. That line originates in Canada, and provides access to major midwestern markets, including Chicago.

North Dakota has been posting record production numbers for natural gas, but unwelcome increases in flaring have come with that. In November, the state produced 2.523 MCF per day, and flared 527 million cubic feet of that per day, according to the latest production figures.

Additional takeaway capacity that projects like the WBI line provide are essential to solve flaring issues, according to Pipeline Authority Justin Kringstad.

“The additional capacity will allow new investments in gas capture infrastructure, such as gathering pipelines and processing plants to move forward,” he said.

So far, there are no new publicly announced gas plants north of Lake Sakakawea, Kringstad said.

“But with the increased activity and well performance, additional processing capacity will be needed as a long-term solution for the area,” he added.

Trevor Hasting, president and CEO of WBI Energy said the company is excited to be part of the solution to the North Dakota oil and gas industry’s flaring problem.

"We are excited to grow our pipeline system to meet the natural gas transportation needs in the Bakken region,” he said. "We are working with our customers to meet these needs as the industry focuses on reducing natural gas flaring while growing production volumes."

WBI Energy already operates an interstate transmission network that spans four states including North Dakota and Montana. Since the new pipeline will be part of an interstate system, it will be regulated by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, rather than the North Dakota Public Service Commission.

WBI will begin pursuing the pipeline’s regulatory approvals in the first quarter of this year, and hopes to begin construction of the new pipeline in early 2021. They hope to complete it later that same year, depending on regulatory and environmental permitting and the finalization of agreements with its customers.