In an effort to determine which government agency has oversight authority for the Bushton, KS, natural gas liquids (NGL) fractionation plant, three subsidiaries of Oneok Partners LP have filed a declaratory judgment action in federal District Court in Tulsa, OK, seeking a ruling on the jurisdictional limits of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA).

The Oneok Partners subsidiaries are asking the court to rule on the extent of PHMSA’s regulatory jurisdiction over Oneok’s Bushton plant, associated storage and in-plant piping systems. They have requested a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction to delay a scheduled PHMSA inspection of the plant until a decision is made on jurisdiction.

“This filing is an effort to resolve an ongoing disagreement over the extent of PHMSA’s jurisdictional boundaries at our Bushton NGL fractionation plant,” said Oneok Partners COO Pierce H. Norton. “Although PHMSA has jurisdiction over our pipeline systems into and out of the plant, the Bushton NGL fractionation plant is regulated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

“We believe PHMSA is outside its jurisdictional authority by inspecting and attempting to impose different regulations on the assets and operating procedures currently regulated by OSHA and the EPA. We believe that having different rules within the same plant could result in misinterpretation and confusion.”

In 2010, Oneok Partners said it would invest $110 million to $140 million to expand and upgrade its existing fractionation capacity at Bushton, increasing its capacity up to 210,000 b/d from 150,000 b/d. The Bushton plant serves NGL production from the growing Bakken Shale.