April 20, 2011

Two new natural gas processing plants should open soon

By Tina Foreman
Farmer Staff Writer

Along with its richness in oil, the Bakken Formation is also producing a large amount of natural gas, much of which is being burnt off due to a lack of infrastructure. Two area companies hope to begin collecting some of that natural gas when their new gas plants go on-line in May, 2011.
Unlike oil, natural gas cannot be trucked to the nearest gas plant for processing, so much of North Dakota’s natural gas is burnt off through the flaring process.
Gas processing facilities close to being operable include one seven miles south of Watford City, which is being built by Saddle Butte Pipeline LLC and one near Cartwright, being built by Hiland Partners, LP.
“We’ve hired four employees and plan to have the plant commissionable within the next two weeks,” says Brenda Fulkrod, Saddle Butte Pipeline senior business manager.
The Saddle Butte Pipeline Plant has a capacity of 25 million cubic feet per day, with plans for ongoing expansion.
“We will get phase one operating shortly and then start immediately on phase two,” adds Fulkrod. “Phase two will process around 65 million  cubic feet per day. Once phase two goes on-line, we will probably expand once a year for the next two to three years.”
Like Saddle Butte, Hiland Partners has also hired plant operators with hopes of going on-line soon.
“We have employees hired and are training them at our plant north of Williston,” states Derek Gipson, Hiland Partners vice president. “We are on schedule to fire the plant up in May, and we’re very excited to get things going.”
The Hiland Plant will process 30 million cubic feet per day, but they also have expansion in the plan.
“Once we are on-line, we will start our expansion plan which will bring the plant up to 85 million cubic feet a day. We plan to have the expansion on-line by fourth quarter 2011.”
Although it is difficult to determine how many flares the plants will put out when they go on-line, it is apparent that these two new processing plants will greatly increase the amount of Bakken natural gas that is being collected.