North Dakota hits pipeline firm with more oversight charges

By James MacPherson, Associated Press

North Dakota is assessing an additional $100,000 fee to pay for an independent review of the construction of the biggest-capacity pipeline proposed to date to move crude from the state's oil patch.

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota is assessing an additional $100,000 fee to pay for an independent review of the construction of the biggest-capacity pipeline proposed to date to move crude from the state's oil patch.

The state Emergency Commission voted Wednesday to charge Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners the to cover the cost of the third-party monitoring for the proposed Dakota Access Pipeline, a $3.8 billion, 1,130-mile pipeline to move nearly 600,000 barrels of crude daily from North Dakota to Illinois. The pipeline's capacity is about half of North Dakota's current production, and the state's portion is the longest leg of the pipeline and the most expensive, at $1.4 billion.

The North Dakota Public Service Commission approved the permit for the Dakota Access Pipeline last month and also hired Mandan-based Keitu Engineers and Consultants Inc. in a contract worth about $111,000 to perform the additional monitoring that will focus on the removal, replacement and reseeding of soil.

PSC chairwoman Julie Fedorchak said the goal is to "hold the company responsible for high standards."

The company has paid the state $100,000 and the additional money will offset the cost of the contractor's monitoring, and other expenses that could arise such as legal fees and additional hearings and inspections.

The Emergency Commission unanimously endorsed the PSC request. Gov. Jack Dalrymple chairs the six-member panel, which includes the secretary of state, the chairmen of the state House and Senate appropriations committees and the majority leaders of the House and Senate. The panel considers money questions when the Legislature is not in session.

Fedorchak said third-party monitoring of pipelines has been done since 2008 but it's the first time a review of a project exceeded the state's required $100,000 "processing fee." She said the PSC likely will make a similar request for additional monitoring money from Enbridge Energy for its proposed $2.6 billion Sandpiper pipeline that would administrative judge is siding with Enbridge Energy on its route for a new pipelineto carry North Dakota crude oil to Superior, Wisconsin.

State law allows companies to be assessed up to $10,000 for each $1 million of a project's estimated cost.

Regulators in South Dakota and Illinois also have already approved permits for the Dakota Access Pipeline. Iowa still remains, though the company has said it expects that approval to come soon. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers also must approve the pipeline because it would cross beneath the Missouri River twice in North Dakota, near Williston and Mandan.

Energy Transfer Partners has said the company is optimistic the necessary permits will be obtained in all states, with completion set for late 2016.

The company already has begun stockpiling steel pipe across four states in anticipation of getting the needed permits to build the pipeline.

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