In the next three years, locally based utility and construction holding company MDU Resources Group plans to add more than 500 MMcf/d of natural gas capacity, with four pipeline projects serving the Bakken Shale in North Dakota.

While the company reported flat year-over-year first quarter earnings, MDU CEO David Goodin praised his company's pipeline and midstream unit, WBI Energy, for earnings and project growth. WBI reported first quarter earnings growth of nearly 30% and record transportation volumes for the ninth consecutive quarter.

Last month, WBI began construction on the Demick Lakes project, a 14-mile, 175 MMcf/d undertaking in McKenzie County, ND, and expansion of Line Section 22 in Billings, MT. The two projects should increase gas capacity by 200 MMcf/d when they go into service later this year, Goodin said, and boost WBI’s overall system capacity to 2 Bcf/d.

Goodin added that the North Bakken expansion project, which would offer another 200 MMcf/d of capacity in 2021, is in the planning stages. "We estimate this project to be another $200 million of investment,” he said, noting that the company is in the first year of a five-year, $1.5 billion capital program that also includes its utilities in six states. Goodin said the north Bakken project could eventually be expanded to 375 MMcf/d.

North Dakota-based MDU Resources reported consolidated first quarter earnings of $40.9 million (21 cents/share), compared with $42.4 million (22 cents) for the same period last year.