A natural gas processing plant announced last year by a major natural gas company operating in North Dakota got the go ahead by the state Thursday.
The North Dakota Public Service Commission unanimously approved the proposed 200 million cubic-feet-per-day Lonesome Creek natural gas processing plant.
Commissioner Julie Fedorchak put the construction cost of the plant at $280 million. The plant will be located 13 miles southwest of Watford City in McKenzie County.
Last fall, company officials unveiled the proiect in Bismarck as part of a new round of investment in the state.
Oneok officials estimated between 300 and 400 construction jobs will end up created during the construction of the Lonesome Creek plant.
The Lonesome Creek project would be the company’s sixth natural gas plant either built or under construction in the state since 2010 and seventh overall. Once completed, Oneok’s total permanent employment at its plants should be 250.
Fedorchak said with the state trying to rein in the flaring of natural gas, the Lonesome Creek plant would help add processing capacity to the state’s infrastructure.
“This project keeps us moving in the right direction,” Fedorchak said.
At a public hearing in the spring, Fedorchak said all McKenzie County residents in attendance spoke favorably of the project.
“They seem very comfortable with how they operate,” Fedorchak said. Fedorchak said the plant would require approximately 50 megawatts of power to operate.
Commissioner Randy Christmann expressed concern over the spiking demand for additional electrical power capacity in the state — especially in the oil patch.
“It just frustrates me that no base load power generation applications are coming in,” Christmann said.
He said he’s concerned about a growing reliance on wind power until more capacity comes via traditional energy sources. He has said on numerous occasions he believes over-reliance on wind energy could create issues with reliability on the grid and increased costs to consumers.
Fedorchak said the grid does currently have capacity for the Lonesome Creek plant and will end up serviced by a new substation nearby.