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FERC Starts Environmental Review of Proposed North Dakota NatGas Pipeline

FERC has started its environmental assessment (EA) of the Demicks Lake natural gas pipeline project (see Daily GPIMay 14), which is tied to a proposed gas processing plant of the same name that has been suspended in the Williston Basin.

Anticipating a formal application for the pipeline, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission staff began the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)-required review under the Commission's pre-filing process.

A spokesperson for Bismarck, ND-based MDU Resources Group told NGI on Tuesday that the company's pipeline/storage unit, WBI Energy Inc., is moving "full speed ahead" on the 22.7-mile, 24-inch diameter pipeline and related facilities, and it expects to file its formal FERC application next year and eventually have the pipeline in service in 2017, pending the development of the now stalled gas processing plant.

Earlier this year, Tulsa-based ONEOK Partners said it was suspending development of its related Demicks Lake gas processing plant, along with two others because of low crude oil prices (see Daily GPIFeb. 24).

In response to an inquiry from NGI on Tuesday, a Tulsa-based ONEOK spokesperson said the Demicks Lake plant development was stopped because of "lower commodity prices, reduced producer drilling and the anticipated impact to natural gas volume growth." She said the company expects to resume its suspended capital-growth projects and update associated completion dates "as soon as market conditions improve."

In its notice on the EA, FERC referenced the proposed ONEOK plant as a related non-jurisdictional facility that was seeking approvals from the North Dakota Public Service Commission for a $640 million, 400 MMcf/d capacity processing plant on a 160-acre site about 13.5 miles northeast of Watford City, ND.

FERC said the proposed WBI pipeline would also include a meter station and various safety maintenance equipment. And in addition, WBI proposed to build a 3,300-foot, 16- to 24-inch diameter pipeline to interconnect the new line with the existing 16-inch diameter Garden Creek II gas pipeline south of state Highway 23.

"Tie-across pipeline facilities would consist of a block valve on both of the Demicks Lake and Garden Creek II pipelines, a pig launcher at both ends, and a metering facility at one end of the tie-across pipeline," FERC said in its notice.

Pending the outcome of the EA, WBI would like to begin construction by spring 2017, the spokesperson said. On that timetable, the pipeline could be in service by September 2017, but that depends on the timing of ONEOK's now-suspended processing plant.

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