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New natural gas pipeline 'open for business'

Oct 30, 2013
Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

An 80 mile long, $170 million natural gas pipeline is now ready for gas.

It’s called the Tioga Lateral Pipeline – and it will connect the Hess gas plant in Tioga with the Alliance Pipeline. It’ll move the Bakken gas to Chicago. And it will move both regular gas and liquefied natural gas. The line will have a capacity of 126 million cubic feet of natural gas each day.

Alliance says the new line will help reduce the flaring of natural gas.

The Public Service Commission will be looking at a settlement agreement – reached between Montana-Dakota Utilities and PSC staff – on MDU’s latest request for a natural gas rate increase.

MDU had filed for a 6.4 percent increase – or about $6.8 million. It also filed for interim rates – in the amount of 4.5 million dollars.

The settlement agreement says MDU will get a $4.25 million rate increase.  And because the interim rates have NOT yet been implemented, MDU agrees to hold to that figure for the interim rates, until the PSC makes the final ruling.

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

An oil and gas industry task force has been meeting to find ways to reduce the amount of natural gas being flared in the Bakken.

About 30 percent of the natural gas is being flared. Industry leaders say the problem used to be a shortage of natural gas processing plants.

Task force member Lance Langford -- an executive with Statoil -- says that issue is being solved. But he told the state Industrial Commission there's a different problem now.

"Now today, the major problem is gathering," said Langford. "Gathering the gas and moving it to the processing plants."

MDU natural gas rate increase suspended

Sep 26, 2013

The Public Service Commission has voted to suspend a natural gas rate increase requested by Montana Dakota Utilities.

MDU has asked for an overall 6.4 percent increase. It would be 9.5 percent for residential customers – or about $5.15 a month.

The PSC had to move to suspend the rates – or they would take effect within 30 days.

Commissioner Julie Fedorchak says the company and the Commission will have to clearly explain why the rate increase is in front of the PSC.

Energy corridor proposed for ND, MN

Sep 26, 2013

A Minnesota-based power company is proposing a comprehensive energy transportation corridor in North Dakota and Minnesota.

Allete is proposing the corridor would follow an existing 465 mile path between Center and Duluth. That’s the route of an existing Allete power line. The corridor would be home to other infrastructure development, such as pipelines.

Gov. Jack Dalrymple says he would like to see it used for a natural gas pipeline – to take gas from the Bakken and move in to the east.

MDU asks for natural gas rate increase

Sep 19, 2013

Montana Dakota Utilities Co. has filed for a natural gas rate increase.

The utility is asking for an overall 6.4 percent increase. For residential customers, the increase would be 9.5 percent.

"For a residential custimer, it would be about $5.15 a month," said MDU spokesman Mark Hanson. "What we're looking to do is recover costs for quite a bit of investment in our natural gas facilities, as well as technology upgrades."

Hanson says some of those upgrades benefit customers directly.

Natural gas flaring rules update considered

Sep 16, 2013

The state Industrial Commission is starting an in-depth discussion on reducing natural gas flaring in the Bakken.

Around 30 percent of the gas is flared.

State mineral resources director Lynn Helms will be discussing the Industrial Commission's goals with industry representatives at the North Dakota Petroleum Council's meeting in Grand Forks.

"They're pretty simple goals," said Helms. "Number one, reduce the volume of gas flared. Number two, reduce the number of wells flaring. And number three, reduce the duration for which those wells flare."

Senate energy committee chairman touring ND

Sep 6, 2013
Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

The chairman of the US Senate Energy Committee says he understands the need for infrastructure – especially pipelines – in western North Dakota to get oil and natural gas to market.

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) is touring western North Dakota at the invitation of fellow Energy Committee member Sen. John Hoeven (R-ND). Wyden says he’d like to talk to people in the petroleum industry on the idea of so-called “smart pipelines.”

'After-the-fact' pipeline hearing scheduled

Aug 21, 2013

Under normal circumstances, the Public Service Commission holds hearings on proposed projects – like natural gas pipelines.

But the Commission will be holding a siting hearing “after the fact.”

In 2008, Hiland Operating, LLC built a 6.5 mile natural gas line in Divide and Burke Counties. It did so without a permit.

"They thought it was a gathering line," said Public Service Commissioner Julie Fedorchak. "Under the definition, it does not require a permit. But it's clearly a transmission line."

The new federal Secretary of the Interior says it’s very important that industry, the federal government and the state government work together to make sure energy development in North Dakota is done well – and done with a sensitivity to environmental concerns.

Sally Jewell toured western North Dakota oil fields, as well as the Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

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