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Bakken Briefings

Via the Bismark Tribune Bakken Breifly

Robinson Lake plant to expand

The North Dakota Public Service Commission will hold a public hearing Thursday on a proposed expansion of the Robinson Lake Gas Plant located about eight miles northeast of New Town.

The Robinson Lake Gas Plant, owned by Whiting Oil and Gas Corp., was originally constructed in 2007 to process gas from oil production.

Since it went into service, the plant has been modified to meet increased regional demand for processing of wellhead gas produced by Whiting as well as other groups active in that area.

The proposed expansion puts the plant above the production level of 100 million cubic feet per day, which requires a formal siting under state law. The expansion will be entirely within the existing fence line of the plant, on a site of approximately 23 acres.

The public hearing will be held at 10 a.m. Thursday at the Mountrail County South Complex Building in Stanley.

— New Town News

Huge BNSF rail project underway

Workers have begun mobilizing in Tioga as part of a record $5 billion in maintenance and expansion projects planned by BNSF Railway in 2014.

More than $900 million of that is targeted for the Northern Corridor, which includes North Dakota, spokeswoman Amy McBeth said.

The work planned this season includes 46 miles of new second main track between Minot and Williston.

“In particular, crews are building a railroad bridge just east of Tioga,” McBeth said. “There is currently a bridge for the existing main track and this additional bridge will be constructed for the second main track.”

Work on the bridge portion of the project should be complete later in the spring, she said.

West of Tioga, crews have been laying track for the second main track, she said. Work will continue on that project in stages throughout the summer.

The projects also will allow the railway to expand its capacity, which is already stretched by the amount of oil, natural gas and grain being shipped out of the region.

— Tioga Tribune

Parshall kills rezoning request

Parshall City Council members decided against rezoning a 10-acre plot of land in the southeastern part of the city because the council members felt the proposed business would not fit in with the city’s future plans for the area.

Perry Byers asked for the zoning change on a plot of land he purchased about a month before it was annexed into the city in 2012. He has been running a business that supplies portable toilets to the oil industry and others.

Byers built three underground tanks on the site to store waste prior to shipping it to a disposal site north of New Town or spreading it on farm land as a fertilizer. He also has a trailer on the site for his employees.

Byers asked for the zoning change so he could continue to operate his business. In a public hearing before the city council, he said he is following all the rules set down by the North Dakota Health Department and federal Environmental Protection Agency. But council members rejected his request.

— Mountrail County Record, Parshall

McKenzie County cases stack up

After two months on the job, McKenzie County State’s Attorney Jake Rodenbiker has gotten a full taste of what life is like in the Bakken.

As the enormous caseload continues to grow, the three-member staff in the state’s attorney office has remained the same. Roughly 1,800 cases need to be handled, and some have not received attention since early 2013, Rodenbiker said.

The McKenzie County Commissioners recently approved Rodenbiker’s request to hire an assistant state’s attorney, as well as an additional legal secretary and a temporary intern law clerk.

“We are tight on space right now because of the remodel of the courthouse,” Rodenbiker said. “But when push comes to shove, I’m not going to let space be the reason we don’t get more staffing when need be.”

Even after hiring an assistant attorney, there would still be a backlog of 900 cases each.

— McKenzie County Farmer, Watford City

Kenmare’s West Side Square filling

With three new tenants committed to opening storefronts in downtown Kenmare, the West Side Square is expected to be fully operational sometime in June.

A restaurant, a furniture store and a fitness center will grace the south side of the square, according to Kenmare Community Development Corp., Executive Director Jennifer Nelson.

“The furniture store will take two spots next to the drug store and the restaurant will be on the south end,” Nelson said. “We didn’t have a lot of interest through the winter but didn’t have a lot to show people. Lately, there’s been a lot of interest.”

Cassie Golde will be operating a coffee shop and will be the plaza’s southside anchor. Ralph Kay will be occupying two of the spaces for Kay’s Furniture, and Boom Fitness will be located between the cafe and furniture store.

— Kenmare News

Noonan landfill avoids socks

A Noonan landfill has been using a Geiger counter for the past year, said owner Dan Ruby, of Circle Sanitation.

Radioactive filter socks like those found in a vacant building in Noonan have come to the landfill, Ruby said, but they are not accepted.

Ruby said the Noonan landfill installed a Geiger counter to check for radioactive filter socks and similar oil field wastes stashed in household or commercial trash.

He feels confident about Circle Sanitation’s ability to protect people from the radioactive oil field waste.

— The Journal, Crosby

Tioga gas plant back on line

Tiogans were greeted last week by a sight that had been missing for the better part of five months — a flare atop the Hess Corp. gas plant.

The shutdown was necessary in late November while the company worked toward an expansion that will more than double the plant’s capacity — from about 100 million standard cubic feet of gas per day to 250 million.

“We have commenced start-up at the Tioga Gas Plant and have introduced field gas to the plant and will be slowly ramping up over the next several weeks,” said John Roper, a Hess spokesman in Houston.

The plant was re-started March 23.

Though state officials have been lauding the reduction of natural gas flaring that should be possible now that the Hess plant has expanded its capacity, Roper said it’s too early to quantify that benefit.

“It will take several weeks to get the plant operating at 100 percent capacity so we can’t accurately predict the applicable data until a later time,” he said.

— Tioga Tribune

Divide school faces budget crisis

The Divide County school board’s finance committee held a special meeting to consider how to deal with an impending budget crisis.

The money problems stem from a shortfall in oil and gas impact revenue last fall. The district anticipated $700,000 from the state, but the money never came. As a result, the district had to tap its $1.5 million reserve, depleting the fund by about half.

The school board expects a similar situation for 2014-15, which could totally deplete the reserve.

When the board convenes in April, it will try to figure out a 2014-15 budget capable of preserving programs while slashing expenses by about $250,000.

Superintendent Sherlock Hirning told the finance committee such cuts — coupled with additional tax levies the board can impose without putting a tax increase to a vote by the public — are needed for 2014-15 to avoid tapping the reserve.

— The Journal, Crosby

(Compiled by Steve Andrist, former publisher of newspapers in Crosby and Tioga.)

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