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New Bakken Gas Processing Plant Enters Service

ONEOK Partners LP has placed into service its 100 MMcf/d gas processing facility in eastern McKenzie County in North Dakota. The Garden Creek Plant is serving producers in the Bakken Shale region.

"The completion of this facility is a positive step toward reducing [gas] flaring activities in North Dakota and provides producers with increased natural gas processing capacity for their product," said ONEOK Partners President Terry K. Spencer.

Gas flaring in the Bakken Shale has become an issue as liquids-focused producers ply the play for oil. Gas flares have caught the attention of environmentalists and others who are skeptical of drilling activity. However, Justin Kringstad, director of the North Dakota Pipeline Authority, recently told NGI's Shale Daily that producers were spending about $3 billion on infrastructure projects to capture the gas (see Shale Daily, Oct. 12, 2011).

ONEOK Partners previously announced plans to invest $1.5-1.8 billion in growth projects in the Bakken Shale by 2014 in its natural gas gathering and processing and natural gas liquids (NGL) businesses (see Shale Daily, Jan. 25, 2011). In addition to the Garden Creek plant, these investments include the construction of the Bakken Pipeline, an approximately 500-mile NGL pipeline, and two additional 100 MMcf/d gas processing facilities: the Stateline I and Stateline II plants in western Williams County, ND.

The Bakken Pipeline is expected to be completed by the first half of 2013, and the Stateline I and Stateline II plants are expected to be completed by the third quarter of 2012 and the first half of 2013, respectively.

According to North Dakota state law -- also known as the Century Code -- gas produced with crude oil from an oil well may be flared for a one-year period from the date of first production from the well. After one year, the flaring must cease and the well must be either capped, connected to a gas gathering line or equipped with an electrical generator that consumes at least 75% of the gas from the well.

According to ONEOK Partners, it is the largest independent operator of gas gathering and processing facilities in the Williston Basin with a gathering system of more than 3,500 miles and acreage dedications of more than 1.9 million acres.

Development activity in the Bakken/Sanish/Three Forks play has shown a significant increase over the last year. According to NGI's Shale Daily Unconventional Rig Count for the week ending Jan. 6, the number of rigs actively drilling for oil and gas in the play has jumped 26% from 159 rigs a year ago to 201 rigs today.

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