Energy

PSC: Kudos to MDU for natural gas expansion projects

15 hours ago
Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

Members of the North Dakota Public Service Commission are commending MDU for its natural gas expansion projects.

MDU is building a pipeline from the existing Alliance Pipeline to Gwinner, to serve the Doosan Bobcat plant. It is also building a pipeline to connect its Williston Basin line to the Viking pipeline in western Minnesota.

Some communities have said businesses won’t expand or locate because of a lack of natural gas service.

Commissioner Julie Fedorchak has long pushed for natural gas expansion.

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

The March numbers are in for oil and gas production in North Dakota’s Williston Basin.

While oil production was down slightly, signs point to record production by this summer.

State mineral resources director Lynn Helms likes to have a theme for these monthly Director’s Cuts.

For the March report?

"Let's get ready to rumble," Helms said.

Helms said March was pretty cold, with a couple of snowstorms, and some windy days – all affected oil production. The March numbers were down about 3000 barrels a day from February.

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

Bismarck-based MDU Resources expects a project to bring natural gas to the Doosan Bobcat plant in Gwinner will be finished by this fall.

MDU will be building 21 miles of pipeline from the Alliance Pipeline to the Bobcat plant.

"Materials are being purchased, and will be delivered soon to the site," said MDU Resources president and CEO David Goodin. "Right-of-way is being secured."

Goodin said the project itself will only take about 60 to 90 days to build, once the preliminary work is done.

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

The Public Service Commission has approved ONEOK’s plans to convert an existing pipeline from natural gas to natural gas liquids.

The 45 mile, 12-inch diameter Cherry Creek pipeline runs from the Lonesome Creek gas plant to the Stateline gas plant. It will carry 50,000 barrels of the natural gas liquids daily.

Commissioner Julie Fedorchak said this will help companies reach their flaring reduction goals. And she said transportation by pipeline is safer than using trucks or rail cars.

"This is pretty volatile stuff," Fedorchak said. "This is the best way to do it."

The company planning to build the new oil refinery at Belfield has hired an engineering and construction firm to complete the “front end engineering and design” study for the refinery.

It’s being done in anticipation of the state Health Department giving the company the permit to construct the refinery.

"We are fairly certain there will be no substantial changes to that permit from the draft that was issued in December," said Meridian CEO William Prentice.

Prentice said he expects the final permits will be issued soon.

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

The North Dakota Industrial Commission has approved some tweaks to the Commission’s natural gas flaring rules.

"We think that refocusing our efforts on stranded gas, and on people who are not meeting gas capture goals, while keeping the goals in place and keeping their feet to the fire, is the right way to go," said state Mineral Resources director Lynn Helms.

Infrastructure issues in the Oil Patch

Apr 17, 2018
Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

North Dakota's oil patch could see some issues with a lack of infrastructure to get oil and natural gas to market.

Since the Dakota Access Pipeline was completed, the premium charged against Bakken crude oil has dropped.

It was at its highest when a lot of oil was being transported by rail – and that meant discounts were taken because of transportation costs.

But as oil production is expected to increase, North Dakota could see a swing again toward rail transport of crude.

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

North Dakota’s Industrial Commission will be looking at what state mineral resources director Lynn Helms calls “tweaks” to its natural gas flaring policy.

Helms said the oil and gas industry is recommending the Commission keep the rules in place for both reservation and non-reservation lands, and wants the Commission to stick with its gas capture goals. But Helms said the rules might change when it comes to “stranded gas.”

Five natural gas processing projects in the Bakken

Apr 12, 2018
Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

The Public Service Commission has approved the expansion of an existing natural gas processing plant north of Killdeer.

OneOK’s Bear Creek plant will increase its capacity from 80 million cubic feet per day to 175 million cubic feet per day.

There are five projects underway or pending to expand or build gas processing in the Bakken.

"It's a major, major increase in North Dakota's gas processing capabilities," said PSC Chairman Randy Christmann. "It's going to take trucks off the road, reduce flaring and enhance the value of our gas production."

Dave Thompson

Xcel Energy has filed with the North Dakota Public Service Commission to collect an incentive payment for meeting reliability standards.

The incentive was part of a rate case several years ago. Xcel was having problems with power outages in the Fargo area. The incentive was added to that case, so if Xcel would reduce the number of outages, it would be eligible for the incentive. And the incentive would be between $250,000 and $1 million.

Under that rate case, if a customer experienced three or more outages in a year not due to weather, Xcel would pay $50.

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