Goshen County commissioners discuss proposed $1.3 billion natural gas pipeline that will cover 900 miles

April 5, 2018 GMT

TORRINGTON—Goshen County officials met with ONEOK government relations manager Danette Welsh Tuesday afternoon to discuss the proposed Elk Creek Pipeline.

Welsh explained that the proposed pipeline would follow ONEOK’s current Bakken Pipeline through eastern Wyoming, including Goshen County. Both pipelines would carry natural gas liquids from the company’s processing plants in Montana to be fractionated in Kansas.

Elk Creek would be a $1.3 billion project, covering 900 miles of 20-inch diameter pipe projected to be complete by the end of 2019. It is expected to transport up to 240,000 barrels per day of liquid ethane, propane, iso-butane, butane, and natural gas. As the Bakken NGL pipeline is already being used at full capacity, the Elk Creek line would be able to match the demand for natural gasses, as well as creating a redundant system to take some of the pressure off the current pipeline.

Welsh said the Tulsa-based company is currently in the early stages of the project of completing surveys, preparing for permits, and contacting landowners for right-of-way easements.

“We are hopeful, through this project, to have some of our construction done yet this year,” she said.

When asked by Ashley Harpstreith of Goshen County Economic Development about the possibility of construction jobs being brought to the area by the project, Welsh said that would be determined by the contractors ONEOK hires for the work.

“They’ll manage their workforce,” she said. “I expect ... they’ll already have quite a bit of their workforce, but there’s always opportunities for additional people to join those projects.”

Commissioner Carl Rupp asked how many pump stations the new pipeline would require. Welsh said the company is currently planning to match the number of stations on the Bakken line.

“The pump stations on this line, we are expecting to be adjacent to the existing (stations),” she said. “They’ll be separate pump stations because they’re separate lines, but there won’t be more of them.”

Depending on the company’s needs, more pump stations may be built to increase Elk Creek’s capacity.

Because of the topography of Goshen County, the pipeline requires its contents be pressurized to be moved, instead of relying on gravity.

“The geography and the topography provide some gravitational challenges that pressure will need to overcome,” she said.

Commissioner Wally Wolski asked where the company would be delivering its materials to the area. During construction fo the Bakken line, supplies were delivered at a Nebraska location, which Welsh said was “ill-advised,” since it impacted the county’s roads.

“We will be taking delivery of our pipeline in the laydown yard at Yoder,” she said.

Rupp asked how landowners will be compensated for the pipeline. Welsh said the company is working with landowners and landowner groups to find a price for the easement. The majority of the land the pipeline would run through is either private property or owned by the state.

Rupp also asked if other wires and lines could be layed with the Elk Creek line during construction. Welsh said that, for safety reasons, that would not be allowed.

“It’s important to keep a minimum amount of seperation of facilities,” she said. “If there were a line strike on the Bakken line and we had to dig it up to repair it, we don’t want to have something that’s right next to it for the space you need for repairs and maintenance.”