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No bids for North Dakota natural gas pipeline project funding on third go-around

The North Dakota Industrial Commission had extended the deadline for a third time, to Dec. 15, after previously receiving no bids by an Aug. 15, 2022, deadline and original deadline of May 15, 2022.

Pipelines with the sun shining on them.
No companies bid by a Dec. 15, 2022, deadline for funding for a project that would help with the cost of constructing a pipeline from west to east in North Dakota.
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GRAND FORKS, N.D. — No companies submitted applications by the deadline of Dec. 15, 2022, for a grant that would assist with construction of a high-pressure transmission pipeline to bring natural gas west to east across North Dakota.

The pipeline project would partly be funded by $150 million from the North Dakota Industrial Commission. North Dakota lawmakers made the funds available to the Industrial Commission for matching grants during a special legislative session in November 2021. The amount includes $10 million designated to transport natural gas to Grand Forks County, where Fufeng Group Ltd., which has proposed to build a wet corn milling plant, and Northern Plains Nitrogen, a fertilizer plant, are potential customers.

Viking Gas Transmission applied for the $10 million grant on April 28, 2022. That grant is still under review and has not been acted upon, Justin Kringstad, North Dakota Pipeline Authority director, said. The full project cost in Viking's April application was $26.1 million, he said.

However, by the Dec. 15 deadline, no one had applied for the main portion of the grant. The original application deadline was May 15, 2022, and the Industrial Commission now has extended that date twice, to Aug. 15, 2022, and then to Dec. 15, 2022, when no one applied. The North Dakota Industrial Commission will meet on Tuesday, Dec. 20, in Bismarck, and members likely will talk about its options for the grant, which include asking North Dakota legislators to modify the proposal during the 2023 session, Kringstad said.

In April 2022, WBI Energy Transmission wrote in a letter to North Dakota leaders that construction of the west-to-east pipeline was too costly because of the high project cost estimates, increased regulatory uncertainty and limited in-state demand potential, according to the Associated Press.

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The cost of the project would likely be more than $1 billion, Kringstad said.

Viking, which is owned by ONEOK Partners based in Oklahoma, has proposed in its application for the $10 million grant to construct a 14-mile line to East Grand Forks, Minnesota, where it would connect to North Dakota lines that are under the Red River.

More than 12 miles of the new pipeline is along an existing pipeline east of Grand Forks, according to ONEOK’s website. About a mile of 12-inch pipeline and a new meter setting are being constructed in Grand Forks, the website said.

That pipeline would serve the needs of Fufeng and Epitome Energy — which announced it intends to build a soybean plant in Grand Forks — in the mid-term, said Todd Feland, Grand Forks city administrator.

Viking Gas Transmission has not yet filed the project with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Kringstad said.

Feland believes that the company will file now that the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States has completed its review on the Fufeng Group Ltd. plant. The Committee earlier this month determined that the proposed wet corn mill did not fall under its jurisdiction .

Just as the City of Grand Forks now will resume work on issues related to the project, including design, infrastructure and water, so too will Viking Gas Transmission proceed with issues that are a part of the natural gas pipeline project, Feland predicted.

Viking Gas Transmission estimates it will launch construction work on the project in the third quarter of 2023 and have it completed in the fourth quarter 2023, the ONEOK website said. The natural gas pipeline will have the capacity to carry 42,000 dekatherms.

Ann is a journalism veteran with nearly 40 years of reporting and editing experiences on a variety of topics including agriculture and business. Story ideas or questions can be sent to Ann by email at: abailey@agweek.com or phone at: 218-779-8093.
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