Public Service Commission approves permits
BISMARCK -- Crude oil will soon have another route under Lake Sakakawea after the North Dakota Public Service Commission voted unanimously Monday to grant a permit for a nearly $105 million pipeline.
BISMARCK - Crude oil will soon have another route under Lake Sakakawea after the North Dakota Public Service Commission voted unanimously Monday to grant a permit for a nearly $105 million pipeline.
Hess North Dakota Pipelines LLC plans to take an existing 8-inch gas pipeline that was installed 6 feet beneath the lake bottom in 1992 and convert it to a crude oil pipeline.
The segment under the lake stretches about 2.4 miles. It will connect on the south end with a 10-mile segment of new pipeline beginning near Keene and on the north end with a 12.8-mile segment of new pipeline ending at the Ramberg Truck Facility near Tioga.
The new segments of 12-inch pipeline will be buried at least 5 feet underground, PSC Chairwoman Julie Fedorchak said.
The roughly 25-mile pipeline will carry up to 76,000 barrels of Bakken crude oil per day. In its application filed in January, Hess said the pipeline would help to address anticipated regional pipeline and outlet constraints north of the lake as development of the Bakken increases and relieve the large truck traffic on western North Dakota roads.
Hess will monitor the pipeline’s pressure, flow and temperature 24/7 from a control room in Tioga, where operators will be able to remotely activate emergency shutdown valves at various locations including on both sides of the lake, Fedorchak said.
A risk assessment by Hess found that the pipeline under the lake has a risk of leaking once every 190 years, Fedorchak said. Under the worst-case scenario, a leak would have “minimal effect” on water quality, plants and animals, Fedorchak said, citing Hess data.
Hess will conduct a “smart pig” inline inspection and pressure test on the pipeline before putting it into service, and will continue to do smart pig inspections on the lake crossing every 42 months, which Fedorchak noted is more frequent than the federal government’s requirement of once every five years.
“The company is taking a proactive step to increase the testing of that line, recognizing the importance of that line to safe operations of their system and to the safety of the water resources in Lake Sakakawea,” she said.
Hess estimates construction will take about six months.
The commission on Monday also approved a permit for Hess to establish a natural gas liquids pipeline along the same corridor using new and existing lines at an estimated cost of $37 million with a capacity of 30,000 barrels per day.
According to PSC data, there are currently two crude oil transmission pipelines crossing under Lake Sakakawea, along with two carbon dioxide pipelines, three natural gas pipelines and one natural gas liquids pipeline. That information is based on pipelines the PSC has sited since 1975 and an old pipeline map the PSC assembled in 1987, PSC spokeswoman Stacy Eberl said.
Commissioner Randy Christmann said he’s pleased to see companies continuing to invest in oil and gas infrastructure and not hunkering down as they wait for crude prices to rebound.
Reach Nowatzki at (701) 255-5607 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org .