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North Dakota Panel Readies Pipeline Technology Report

A working group established by North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple is close to finalizing a report on pipeline technology that was prompted by the October 2013 spill of 20,000 bbls of crude oil.

The report is due Dec. 1, ahead of a Dec. 5 state budget meeting (see Shale DailyNov. 4, 2013).

The North Dakota Pipeline Technology Working Group, which met earlier this month, is completing a final draft report identifying technology and monitoring systems to control oil/natural gas pipeline leaks. The group is made up of private-sector engineers, regulators and pipeline companies. Justin Kringstad, director of the North Dakota Pipeline Authority, chairs the group.

Landowners, farmers and ranchers should be empowered to help detect and prevent pipeline leaks through on-the-ground monitoring, said Kringstad. "Being out on the property day in and day in and day out, [landowners] detect incidents sometimes quicker than we could with flyovers or anything else," he said.

Dalrymple said there should be a more formal program to reach out to landowners. "We can probably do something at the state level to make sure they are trained to have the correct contacts available on a moment's notice so they know what to do in the county, if something happens," he said. Coordination is a key, and operators need to be able to shut valves quickly in the event of a pipeline leak, he added.

Oneok Partners representative Wayne Armenta said public awareness plans are part of operators' integrity management programs and the relationships between operators and landowners are critical. "That communications and those relationships with landowners can really prevent a lot of incidents when they're familiar with their territory and they see something going on out there," he said.

KLJ Engineering chief Neil Hushka said he is seeing policy changes in other states focused on training landowners, essentially making them partners in detection and response to pipeline incidents. The system should "empower" landowners to be more proactive in monitoring the pipelines on their respective land holdings. This is key to getting early response to an incident, he said.

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