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Two oil companies fined for failure to follow proceures on oil pipeline conversion

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The Public Service Commission has fined two pipeline companies a total of $30,000 over a pipeline conversion project in McKenzie County.

The issue concerns the approximately 20 mile long Wilson-Bowline. It had been converted from a crude oil gathering line to a transmission line. Commissioner Julie Fedorchak said the companies – Belle Fourche Pipeline and Bridger Pipeline – had other lines they wanted to convert. She said they went ahead and did so, and then, after the fact, filed the required paperwork to do that conversion.

Under a consent agreement, Belle Fourche was fined $10,000 and Bridger was fined $20,000.

"This is a fair agreement," Fedorchak said. "It recognizes the requirements under the law to have the proper permitting in place prior to functioning as a transmission line."

Fedorchak said the pipeline itself is operating efficiently.

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Commissioner Randy Christmann voted for the fine – but he questioned the amount.

"I thought this penalty provision seemed high," Christmann said. "I would certainly have entertained a lesser amount. But I do think a penalty is in order."

PSC Chairman Brian Kroshus thought the amount was appropriate.

"I think it sends the right type of message to industry," Kroshus said. "Know the laws, know the rules, and make sure you are conducting business appropriately, and getting permits as necessary."

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