In the heart of the prolific Bakken Shale in the far northwest corner of North Dakota, a unit of Kinder Morgan Inc. is pursuing a natural gas pipeline link between existing compression and gathering infrastructure that may offer compelling economic benefits despite the system’s relatively small scale.

Kinder's Hiland Partners Holdings LLC’s Bakken Missouri River Crossing Project would be a 10-mile gas pipeline from the Brogger compressor station in Williams County to its gas gathering system in McKenzie County.

"It is important for their system to capture the gas north of the river, move it south and get it to its processing plants," said North Dakota Pipeline Authority Director Justin Kringstad.

"It is a small length compared to numerous other projects, but it is still very important for their particular system," Kringstad told NGI's Shale Daily. He said for all of the gas gathering systems in the Bakken there is a "tremendous amount" of intra-state pipeline work.

Williams County this year has been experiencing "a lot of tension" in takeaway capacity to keep up with increased production, he said. Higher oil prices have increased a return to drilling in noncore areas of the county.

"The amount of takeaway capacity up there is not adequate for the amount of drilling activity and new completion technologies that is now focused on that area," Kringstad said.

Projects like the river crossing would help alleviate some of the congestion and aid in gas capture needs in Williams County, he said.

A roughly 2.5-mile portion of the new pipeline would be run under part of the Missouri River and the man-made Lake Sakakawea. Kinder plans to use horizontal directional drilling to continue the linkage.

According to Kinder's analysis, construction of the crossing project would spawn up to 80 jobs during peak construction activities next spring and provide "positive economic impacts" for the region.

With the river crossing and traversing of nearby federal lands, a more complex regulatory process is triggered under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and three separate approvals by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Kringstad said the Kinder pipeline project is similar to what other midstream operators are doing, except the river crossing makes it stand. "There is a lot more information out on this project” because it requires Army Corps approval too, he said.

The capital investment in new processing and gathering infrastructure in North Dakota remains strong, Kringstad said. "I have not heard any pullback; there is still a tremendous amount of interest in getting the right size system built out to handle this production."