FERC said Thursday its staff has opened the environmental assessment process for a new natural gas pipeline project in North Dakota that bids to serve a proposed multi-billion-dollar fertilizer project in the state (see Daily GPI, Sept. 9). The scoping period for comments ends Nov. 24.
Bismarck, ND-based MDU Resources Group through its midstream unit, WBI Energy, plans to transport 90 MMcf/d of natural gas to a major new fertilizer plant near Spiritwood, ND, proposed by the St. Paul, MN-based global farm cooperative CHS Inc. (see Shale Daily, Sept. 22). WBI plans to build its 96-mile, 20-inch diameter Wind Ridge pipeline project to transport natural gas off the Northern Border interstate line.
To serve the $3 billion fertilizer project, which bids to soak up some of the wellhead gas being flared as part of the Bakken shale boom, WBI proposes to invest about $120 million with a pipeline in-service date of 2017.
WBI officials have said recently that there is room for expansion on this pipeline project based on interest the company has received from surrounding areas needing additional firm gas pipeline capacity. CHS's latest estimate for the start up of its fertilizer plant is 2018.
In its notice Thursday, FERC said construction for the planned project would disturb approximately 1,529 acres for above-ground facilities and the pipeline, and after construction is completed, WBI expected to maintain about 595 acres for the project's permanent operation.
"The remaining acreage would be restored and reverted to former uses," the environmental assessment said. "About 6% of the planned pipeline route parallels existing pipeline, utility, or road rights-of-way."
The assessment of the project's environmental impact will look at geology and soils; land use; water resources, fisheries and wetlands; cultural resources; vegetation and wildlife; endangered and threatened species; air quality and noise; and public safety, according to the FERC notice.
Four counties -- McIntosh, Logan, LaMoure and Stutsman -- are slated to be traversed by this project, and the finished environmental assessment will be used by FERC in deciding whether the project gets the greenlight and is in the public interest.
In its initial filing to FERC, WBI outlined a schedule calling for the project to make its formal filing in February and receive its FERC authorization to proceed in December 2015. The proposed start date for commercial service is during January 2017.