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BOE proposes $55 miilion extension of pipeline into McKenzie and Dunn counties

KILLDEER, N.D. -- A proposed $55 million extension of the Bakken Oil Express pipeline into northern Dunn County and northeast McKenzie County will need both North Dakota Public Service Commission and Bureau of Land Management approval, regulators...

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Julie Feordchak, left, and Brian Kalk, middle, listen to testimony given by KLJ representitive Nicholas Anderson, right, during the BOE II pipeline hearing Wednesday at Killdeer City Hall. Photo by Kalsey Stults

KILLDEER, N.D. -- A proposed $55 million extension of the Bakken Oil Express pipeline into northern Dunn County and northeast McKenzie County will need both North Dakota Public Service Commission and Bureau of Land Management approval, regulators said Wednesday.

The PSC listened to testimony on the proposed 16-inch-diameter, 42-mile Bakken Oil Express II Pipeline at Killdeer City Hall. The pipeline would carry 165,000 barrels of oil per day while linking up with the existing 38-mile BOE pipeline that runs through Dunn and Stark counties and ends at the BOE Rail Hub west of Dickinson.

The new pipeline will carry crude oil from a BOE terminal near Johnson’s Corner to its terminal near Killdeer and then to the rail hub.

The BOE claims that the 80-mile pipeline will take about 600 oil trucks off roads annually.

BOE Midstream CEO John Wadsworth said the company started the permitting process in 2014 “to reach more potential crude oil availability to ship crude by rail out of state.”

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PSC commissioner Brian Kalk said the pipeline hearing was a bit unique because it would also go through federal land, giving the BLM jurisdiction over the U.S. Forest Service in issuing a right-of-way grant. The PSC, however, does not have to wait to make a decision in conjunction with BLM.

Kalk said the application the PSC received was a “very good application.”

PSC Chair Julie Fedorchak said she liked that BOE decided to bore drill under the Little Missouri River and in higher elevation areas to keep trees from being impacted.

“I like that you are avoiding to taking out the trees,” she said. “Trees are precious to North Dakotans.”

Scott Besmer, senior project manager for engineering firm KLJ, fielded most of the questions presented from the PSC on the process and environmental impacts.

He said drilling horizontally beneath the river and certain areas of the proposed project will cause the least impact on the river, vegetation, cultural areas and to the endangered species in the habitat even though it has a higher cost than trenching. Horizontal drilling, starts at ground level, then angles down from the surface to be significantly underneath tree roots and the river bed.

BOE and KLJ have been working with BLM to get the permitting sometime this year so that construction can begin in the spring of 2017.

Lowell Hassler, the BLM’s project manager, said when the pipeline was originally filed, there was issues with cultural areas impacted by the project. Since then, the company has re-routed to avoid those areas. The BLM has consulted with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Native American tribes.

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During that time, KLJ has walked all 42 miles of the project, with interested tribes, to look for artifacts or cultural significance that could be impacted because of the pipeline construction.

KLJ and BOE have also done research on transporting noxious weeds from one landowner’s property to another during the construction phase and plan to work on sterilizing all vehicles and equipment that have come into contact with those weeds.

Thirty-seven landowners will be affected in the second phase of the pipeline route. Only one person, Dunn County Emergency Manager Denise Brew, spoke during the public commenting phase.

The PSC will hold a work session to discuss the exhibits and testimony heard Wednesday and will make their decision in the next few months.

The BLM, after gathering all information, plans to make an impact analysis available to the public by the fall.

Hassler said he anticipated a decision by the BLM will be made this year so the company can begin construction in 2017.

“We are finding that these oil companies are really able to work with us to avoid impacts to that environment,” Hassler said.  

Related Topics: DUNN COUNTYNORTH DAKOTA
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