TIOGA, N.D. – Landowners in northwest North Dakota got their first glimpse this week at how a major crude oil pipeline proposed for the Bakken might affect them.
TransCanada held open houses this week for residents along the route of the proposed Upland Pipeline, which would carry oil from southwest of Williston north to Canada.
Milton Lindvig, who owns a farm near Williston, was among the landowners who looked through detailed maps to see where the route would cross his land.
Lindvig, who also will be affected by the Dakota Access pipeline, said he hopes TransCanada works to minimize impacts to landowners.
“I understand the need for pipelines,” said Lindvig. “I think there needs to be good communication between pipelines and the landowners.”
Brenda Jorgenson of White Earth said the pipeline won’t cross her land, but she attended an open house to learn more about where it will cross waterways.
“Anytime they’re making crossings of water, that concerns me,” Jorgenson said.
The Upland would cross the Little Muddy River north of Williston. The installation of the 109-foot crossing would involve trenched crossing methods, TransCanada said.
North Dakota Public Service Commission Chairwoman Julie Fedorchak said she generally prefers that pipeline companies use horizontal directional drilling for river crossings. TransCanada plans to submit its application to the Public Service Commission later this year, and the river crossing would be one aspect commissioners would consider in their review.
“It’s just a lot safer,” Fedorchak said of horizontal directional drilling. “But I’d have to look at the circumstances and we’ll see that when it comes in.”
The Upland also would cross a few other creeks and tributaries, including a tributary of the White Earth River. The pipeline would have automated shut-off valves at major water crossings and sensitive water bodies, TransCanada said.
The 240-mile Upland PIpeline, which includes 126 miles in North Dakota, would transport up to 300,000 barrels of crude oil per day.
The project is expected to be in service by the end of 2020 if it gets approved by the U.S. State Department, Canada’s National Energy Board and the Public Service Commission. Because of the border crossing, the project requires a presidential permit.
Project manager Kevin Maloney said the U.S. State Department is conducting a third-party review of the project. While that process is ongoing, TransCanada plans to take concerns expressed by landowners at the open house events and make adjustments to the route, Maloney said. The company plans to begin negotiating agreements with landowners in early 2017, he said.
Evan Whiteford, a pipeliner who represents the Great Lakes Organizing Committee of North Dakota/Minnesota Laborers’ union, attended the events to learn more about the project. Whiteford said he’s worked for TransCanada before on the Keystone and Bison pipelines and considers the company “top notch” on safety and quality.
Norman Westerness, who lives in Burke County along the pipeline route, said he had questions about reclamation, but is overall supportive of pipelines.
“To me, it’s the safest way to transport crude,” he said.