Maze Of Federal Oversight Impedes North Dakota's Anti-Flaring Push

State regulators plan monthly audits to ensure producers are following the new standards, according to documents seen by Reuters.

That means output that has surged to some 1.1 million bpd of crude from about 321,000 bpd in 2010 could grow more slowly.

Oneok, which just announced plans for an eleventh natural gas processing plant in North Dakota, cannot build a 1.6-mile portion of its 20-mile Lost Bridge pipeline to its three Garden Creek plants without approval from the U.S. Forest Service and the Three Affiliated Tribes of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara (MHA) Nation.

Approval for both lines won't come until November at the earliest, meaning contractors will miss the 2014 construction season due to the state's frigid winter and will likely have to wait until April to build.

While nearly all of North Dakota's land is privately held, some small patches of land at vital points are controlled by federal regulators, necessitating their approval for most pipelines in the state.

For example, any pipeline that crosses Lake Sakakawea, the dammed portion of the Missouri River that bisects the state's Bakken oil field, requires additional approval from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Oneok hopes to open its third Garden Creek processing plant by December. The Forest Service says it's working with the MHA Nation on the best route for the Lost Bridge line, which must traverse rugged, steep terrain.


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