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Pipeline company fined $50,000 for not following its approved corridor

Public Service Commissioners Randy Christmann, Julie Fedorchak and Sheri Haugen-Hoffart
Dave Thompson
Public Service Commissioners Randy Christmann, Julie Fedorchak and Sheri Haugen-Hoffart

A natural gas pipeline company has been fined $50,000 by the North Dakota Public Service Commission – for violations of the state’s siting law.

Andeavor Field Services LLC has 8-inch and 6-inch diameter natural gas pipelines in McKenzie, Billings and Stark Counties. The pipelines were built in 2018. But PSC Chairman Julie Fedorchak said Commission staff issued a Notice of Non-Compliance in 2020, after the company failed to provide required documentation of the work it had done. A supplemental Notice of Non Compliance was issued later that year.

Fedorchak said there were several problems – including the company building outside the pipeline corridor. She said the company did have a permit.

"But then they pretty much built it without a lot of concern for what the permit requirements said," Fedorchak said. "Then they filed the 'as built' documents after being bugged by the Commission twice, two years after the construction."

Fedorchak said that's when PSC staff realized the company went outside the corridor for significant distances, on multiple occasions. She said in a few cases, the pipeline was built more than a mile outside the corridor.

Fedorchak said staff negotiated a “consent agreement,” under which Andeavor agreed to a $50,000 fine. Fedorchak said that’s the second biggest fine for siting violations the Commission has issued. And she said it sends a message to companies – get a permit, and stick to it.

"We need to hold companies accountable to the requirements of the law," Fedorchak said. "They also need to be held to high standards, in order to maintain the public trust."

Commissioners Randy Christmann and Sheri Haugen-Hoffart voted for the settlement – but they thought the fine itself could have been higher.

"When we see such a blatant disregard for the corridor that's approved — I'm not going to find future violations of this to be that low of a magnitude of a fine," Haugen-Hoffat said. "So, Merry Christmas to them."

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