Friday, June 27, 2014

North Dakota Plans to Double Its Pipeline Capacity in Just Two Years

Pipeline under construction (Credit: Shutterstock) Click to enlarge.
North Dakota is planning on doubling its oil and gas pipeline capacity over the next two years through building new pipelines and expanding existing lines and refineries, the state’s governor said Tuesday.

At the Governor’s Pipeline Summit Tuesday, Gov. Jack Dalrymple told oil and gas industry leaders that proposed pipeline and refinery projects are expected to double the state’s oil takeaway capacity from about 783,000 barrels per day to about 1.4 million barrels per day by 2016.  One of the new proposed pipelines — which was announced at the conference this week — is a project of Enterprise Products Partners LP, which, if built would carry oil 1,200 miles from the Bakken oil fields to Cushing, Oklahoma. Another project, called the Sandpiper pipeline, would carry oil from Tioga, North Dakota, to Superior, Wisconsin. 

Pipeline projects are important if North Dakota wants to keep up with the state’s booming oil production — North Dakota produces more than one million barrels of oil each day — as well as help limit natural gas flaring, the governor said.

“We will reduce flaring,” Dalrymple said. “It’s just that simple.”

Gas flaring can be a significant contributor to climate change and is a major problem in North Dakota, especially.  Oil producers in the state’s Bakken region burn natural gas from wells that their collection systems can’t catch, and the cheap cost of gas gives companies little incentive not to burn off the gas that often bubbles up alongside oil in the extraction process.  In all, according to a report from Ceres, North Dakota wastes enough gas each day to heat half a million homes, and in 2012, emissions from North Dakota gas flares were equivalent to adding almost one million cars to the road.  Natural gas is mostly composed of methane, a potent greenhouse gas that traps more heat than CO2 does in a 20-year period, so gas leaks can be a source of methane emissions.  Flaring the gas turns it into carbon dioxide pollution, so cutting flares from oil and gas operations is an important part of reducing overall emissions.

North Dakota Plans to Double Its Pipeline Capacity in Just Two Years

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