Pipeline construction 'close to on track'
Near-record rainfall this fall is not dampening this year's scheduled completion of the Keystone Pipeline through North Dakota. "The rains delay the timeframe somewhat, but nobody really characterized it as too far behind. It sounds like the proj...
Near-record rainfall this fall is not dampening this year's scheduled completion of the Keystone Pipeline through North Dakota.
"The rains delay the timeframe somewhat, but nobody really characterized it as too far behind. It sounds like the project is pretty close to on track," North Dakota Public Service Commissioner Tony Clark said.
Clark toured the pipeline construction project Monday with state Sen. Curtis Olafson, R-Edinburg, and Jeff Rauh, Keystone project representative, traveling from field headquarters near Mekinock, N.D., to Barnes County, where the pipeline is being placed under the Sheyenne River.
"The main impact is that it's kind of a nuisance, getting water out of the low spots, out of the trenches," Clark said. "Sometimes, they have to scrap a day because the right-of-way is too wet for heavy equipment."
Keystone officials said they expect the pipeline construction to be finished in North and South Dakota in December. Some crews will return next spring for reseeding, reclamation and other tasks to finish the project.
The TransCanada Keystone Pipeline is a 30-inch line that will run through eastern North Dakota, entering near Walhalla and exiting at Cogswell, to transport Alberta tar sands crude from Hardesty, Alta., to refineries in Illinois and Oklahoma. It will be buried at least 4 feet below the surface.
When it's completed in 2009, it will move about 435,000 barrels of heavy crude oil daily. By 2010, daily capacity will grow to 590,000 barrels.
Clark said he was fascinated by the construction project in Barnes County, south of Luverne, N.D., where the pipeline is being installed in the shadow of Ashtabula Wind, a 200-megawatt wind farm under construction.
"The pipeline goes right through the wind farm, right through the heart of it," he said. "It's really something to see, the more traditional technology of the pipeline and the newer wind energy under construction at the same time."
Ashtabula Wind is a project being developed by Florida-based FPL Energy and by Otter Tail Power Co., based in Fergus Falls, Minn.
Ashtabula Wind is being built just a few miles south of the planned Luverne Wind Farm, a 157-megawatt wind project being developed by M-Power LLC in Steele and Griggs counties.
Otter Tail Power plans to build, own and operate the first phase of the project, a 49.5 megawatt portion of the farm, consisting of 33 turbines generating 1.5 megawatts each.
M-Power LLC, a community-owned organization of 75 landowners and about 70 other investors, is developing plans for the second phase -- 107.5 megawatts.
The state PSC has scheduled an Oct. 30 meeting to consider final approval for siting the M-Power project. If approved, wind tower construction likely will not begin until next spring. But some road-building could be completed this winter, according to Warren Enyart, M-Power secretary-treasurer.
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