North Dakota regulators OK carbon dioxide, natural gas liquids pipelines

North Dakota regulators approved two pipelines this week, one that will carry carbon dioxide  from a ConocoPhillips plant to the southwestern corner of North Dakota, and another to transport natural gas liquids across the northwestern part of the state.

The Public Service Commission granted permits for the projects in unanimous votes during a meeting held via conference call in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

Denbury Resources plans to build an 18-mile pipeline from Montana into North Dakota through Slope and Bowman counties. The North Dakota portion of the line will extend for nine miles to old oil fields along the state line.

The steel line will carry carbon dioxide for enhanced oil recovery, meaning the gas will be injected underground to boost oil production from depleted wells in the Cedar Creek Anticline Area.

Commissioner Randy Christmann, while supporting the pipeline, said he learned at a hearing held on the project earlier this year that carbon dioxide leaks “can be a danger for quite a distance.” He said he’s interested in pursuing a new rule or law in the future requiring that companies who propose carbon dioxide pipelines notify residents nearby about the risks and secure waivers from them.

Members of the PSC said the enhanced oil recovery project will be good for local communities and counties. Commissioner Julie Fedorchak said it would help increase their property tax base.

Commission Chairman Brian Kroshus added that towns such as Bowman are “heavily reliant on agriculture, and we know that agriculture is facing an uphill battle now from the pricing side.” He said the Denbury project “has the potential to give a community like that and surrounding communities a real shot in the arm.”

The pipeline will be the second carbon dioxide line in North Dakota, following another authorized by the PSC in 1998 that carries gas from Basin Electric’s Great Plains Synfuels Plant near Beulah to oil fields in Saskatchewan.

The carbon dioxide pumped through the Denbury line will come from ExxonMobil’s Shute Creek Gas Plant and Conoco Phillips’ Lost Cabin Gas Plant in Wyoming. It will travel via several pipelines to Fallon County in southeastern Montana. From there, some of the gas would cross into North Dakota via the segment of line that the PSC permitted on Wednesday.

The North Dakota portion of the line is slated to cost $9.2 million.

It’s unknown how soon the line will be built. Denbury, in its application to the PSC, said it plans to build the pipeline over a six-month period, followed by several months of testing.

Source: Bismarck Tribune