PSC comes to Kenmare to hear concerns on Enbridge oil pipeline and pumping project
Posted 1/25/11 (Tue)
The public's right to speak . . . David Hynek, right, chairman
of the Mountrail County Board of Commissioners, testifies before PSC members (l-r) Kevin Cramer, Tony Clark and Brian Kalk about objections
to the Beaver Lodge Project proposed by Enbridge, during a hearing
held in Kenmare on Thursday. The second project considered
in the hearing was the Bakken Pipeline Project, which would
include construction of a new pumping station at Kenaston.
By Caroline Downs
About a dozen residents from Kenmare and Stanley attended a hearing of the North Dakota Public Service Commission on Thursday to consider applications submitted by Enbridge Pipelines (North Dakota) LLC expansion and upgrades for two separate, but related, projects.
Chairman Tony Clark, Commissioner Kevin Cramer and Commissioner Brian Kalk welcomed the public and representatives of Enbridge to the session. “It’s nice to get out and around North Dakota for more and more of these hearings,” said Clark. “The Bakken play has made for an exciting time in North Dakota, but it’s also made for a number of challenges. Today’s hearings are about dealing with the challenges of that growth.”
Cramer described the oil and gas activity in western North Dakota as part of the most aggressive and dynamic energy development in the nation at this time. “We’re looking at 700,000 barrels per day in the near future,” he said. “That’s more than the production in some small Middle Eastern countries. We’re here to ensure the economic activity and investment has minimal impact on the resources and the citizens. That’s our charge.”
Cramer also noted an interest in safety records in the oilfield, particularly as related to accidents during the past year that occurred during excavation and construction. “We will see more construction inspections done,” he said.
Statements from Enbridge senior project direct Mark Sitek and supervisor in U.S. projects environmental group Paul Meneghini, both to Superior, Wisconsin, consumed the first part of the hearing.
to boost capacity
Sitek described the two applications, beginning with the Bakken Pipeline Project that will involve replacing 11 miles of current pipeline to reroute the line around the city of Lignite and constructing new pumping stations near Lignite and Kenaston with 5,000 horsepower pump assemblies. Additional construction is also planned at the originating station of the Enbridge Berthold Terminal.
The annual capacity of the Bakken Pipeline Project was estimated at 145,800 barrels of oil per day (bopd), flowing from Berthold to Stillman, Saskatchewan, and eventually to Enbridge’s terminal in Clearbrook, MN, to be shipped to markets farther south and east. Cost of the project is estimated at $133 million.
The Beaver Lodge Project would complement the Bakken Pipeline Project with the construction of 56 miles of 16-inch steel pipeline from Beaver Lodge Station near Tioga to the Berthold Station. New pump stations and tanks would be constructed at Beaver Lodge and Stanley, with another storage tank erected at the Berthold site.
The annual capacity of this pipeline segment would be 145,800 bopd, with the cost of the entire project estimated at $218 million.
Sitek noted that 43.7 miles of the 56-mile Beaver Lodge Pipeline segment would be co-located to the existing Enbridge pipeline, with the company working to secure the remaining right-of-ways and easements for the project. He detailed safety and inspection procedures necessary for both projects to comply with federal and state regulations.
He also mentioned both projects would generate property tax revenues for the counties involved and boost sales among local businesses, vendors and suppliers. Laborers for both projects would be hired among the local workforces as much as possible.
“This will provide our shippers with the increased capacity they’ve been demanding,” he said. “That 145,800 bopd of increased pipeline capacity equals 729 trucks per day, loaded with 200 barrels of oil per truck. The result will be an increase in public safety.”
According to Sitek’s testimony, construction of both projects would begin on or before June 1, 2011, and be completed by the fourth quarter of 2012, with an estimated service date for the new pipeline of January 1, 2013.
Legal counsel for the PSC asked Sitek about the status of Enbridge’s application process for the Bakken Pipeline Project in Canada, the need for additional access roads to the pipelines, housing issues during construction, paying for crop damages to farmers on land impacted by pipeline construction, and use of the pipeline during the construction period.
Cramer picked up the theme of agricultural payments, asking Sitek for more details. “We pay between two and three full years of crop losses,” said Sitek, “using a formula. Our goal is to pay people for any damage, and we continue working with the farmers if there are problems.”
Kalk emphasized local safety concerns, especially the need for local emergency personnel to be informed about potential response plans. Sitek responded that Enbridge conducted regular drills and safety meetings that included local emergency personnel.
Meneghini addressed the environmental, cultural and historical resources aspects of the projects, with the required surveys completed by Kadrmas, Lee and Jackson of Bismarck.
He noted 29 historic sites were found along the route proposed for the Bakken Pipeline Project in Ward and Burke counties, primarily in the city of Lignite. “No historical resources will be affected,” he said. “There are two rural cemeteries within 300 feet of the pipeline route that will be treated as sensitive resources.”
A total of 228 cultural resources were identified within a one-mile corridor of the Beaver Lodge to Berthold pipeline route, with seven of those requiring specific attention during construction. One archeological site will be avoided by a deviation in the route and another site will have a 50-foot buffer installed.
He listed the wetland, CRP and PLOTS tracts that would potentially be impacted by both projects and specified the areas for mitigation or restoration after construction. He also listed the necessary permits obtained from the Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, ND Department of Health, North Dakota Game & Fish, ND Department of Transportation and the State Water Commission.
No rare or endangered wildlife species were listed on the surveys. However, according to Meneghini, North Dakota Game and Fish recommended Enbridge avoids areas of native prairie during construction and that the company conducts another raptor survey immediately before starting construction on the pipeline projects.
PSC legal counsel asked for clarification on some of the filed survey reports but PSC members had no specific questions about Meneghini’s report. Approval of the proposed projects appeared to be routine.
Objections from Stanley
However, when public comment opened, issues with the Beaver Lodge Pipeline Project at Stanley came to light.
David Hynek of Ross and chairman of the Mountrail County Board of Commissioners, David Enander of Stanley and supervisor for the Idaho Township Board in Mountrail County, and Gary Koshmeder of Stanley and general manager of Farmers Union Oil all raised concerns about the proposed pipeline route through Stanley and its proximity to new construction projects there.
Hynek referred to a highway bypass soon to be built and a new county community building, with plans for a new county shop nearby. Enander stated he was one of the landowners who had not granted an easement for the project yet and supported Hynek’s position on behalf of the county commissioners. Koshmeder described the proximity of the proposed pipeline to a new mobile home park his company was building to house their own employees, given the current housing crisis in Stanley.
The three men noted the successful relationship between Enbridge and the community of Stanley through the years and said they wanted the pipeline project to proceed--with a change in the pipeline route.
The Public Service commissioners expressed their dismay about the apparent lack of communication between Enbridge and their neighbors in Stanley. “It’s significant when you hear from a county commission,” Kalk said. “Stanley’s their town and they’ve got concerns, and this should have come up ahead of time.”
Sitek and Meneghini were recalled and noted they had not been aware of all the construction plans in Stanley, especially the bypass. They agreed that Enbridge representatives wanted to meet with the Mountrail County Commissioners and Farmers Union Oil representatives to discuss the matters and work toward a resolution that would not delay the pipeline construction timetable.
Hynek agreed to a meeting on behalf of the county commissioners.
PSC members and legal counsel agreed to leave the hearing open until reports from meetings between Stanley entities and Enbridge were filed.
On a different note, Curt Johnson, principal with Hartland Wind Farm, spoke in favor of the two Enbridge applications. “The Bakken [Pipeline] portion in Burke County is more integrated into our project,” Johnson said. “I’m here to express our support for an energy project like Enbridge. We don’t anticipate any conflict between our project and the project with Enbridge.”
As the hearing was brought to an end, Clark reiterated the importance of public testimony. “It is significant when we get testimony, especially from political subdivisions,” he said.
“This illustrates how the pace with which this is happening has been awkward for a lot of people,” added Cramer.
“We need more pipelines in the state,” Kalk said. “We need to develop our infrastructure and do so as best we can, and we need to keep cognizant of doing it right all the way through.”
The proceedings from Thursday’s hearing will be reviewed by the PSC staff and members, with a work session to discuss the Enbridge applications scheduled for a later date.