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Proposed Bakken Crude energy corridor could be solution

A proposed 465-mile energy corridor stretching from near Center to Duluth, Minn., sounds like just the thing to help get North Dakota crude oil, natural gas and electricity to market.

The concept certainly is worth pursuing.

Allete and Allete Clean Energy operate a transmission line on this route. The idea is to widen (and extend) the right of way to 150 to 200 feet to make room for other energy carriers — natural gas and crude oil pipelines. This beats siting and buying right of way for multiple transmission lines and pipelines. It would save companies time and effort. It also would reduce the need to press landowners for access to their properties.

Energy produced in western North Dakota, in particular Bakken crude and natural gas, has been growing in volume faster than increases in the means to move it to market — pipeline capacity.

This is the case especially for natural gas, where large volumes are being flared at wellheads. North Dakota needs to connect to natural gas customers to the east to reduce waste and relieve the environmental and political pressure that flaring generates.

The state of North Dakota and energy companies operating here have been looking for innovative ways to move oil, gas and electricity to markets in all directions.

The situation has placed the word “infrastructure” into our vocabulary. The needs gave rise to the North Dakota Pipeline Authority and to a resurgence of rail traffic in the state.

The Allete energy corridor would not be a state project. It’s a private business endeavor, yet the state could, and should, help it along if it will get the job done.

Western North Dakota has become covered with a spider web of easements (although that might be too orderly an analogy). There are easements for pipelines and roads, power lines and water lines. Oil companies have had to beat a path to the door of local farmers and ranchers. Payments for that right of way have escalated.

The energy corridor from the oil patch to Duluth makes sense, but so would other smaller energy corridors in western North Dakota, where multiple uses could be made of easements. It takes planning, and it must make economic sense.

The Allete energy corridor would give oil and gas companies in the state an important connection to markets.

— The Bismarck (N.D.) Tribune

Saturday, October 5, 2013 10:56 pm.


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