By Sarah Pridgeon
Oneok Partners are preparing to place the Bakken pipeline in service, carrying raw natural gas liquids from the Bakken Shale in North Dakota to the Overland Pass Pipeline in Colorado. Pressurized testing is now taking place and product is expected to be flowing through Crook County by the end of the month.
“We’re transitioning right now from the construction phase to preparing for the operation phase,” confirms Brad Borror, Supervisor of External Communications. “We’ll still be in the area, though – we’re doing restoration and clean-up right now.”
Restoration, he adds, will be an ongoing process involving a number of stages. The land must be regularly checked for the next couple of years to ensure the seed has taken, monitor its growth and check for erosion until the grass properly takes hold.
“We will also be monitoring the pipeline, as we do with all our pipelines,” Borror says. “We’ll be walking the line, flying it occasionally and monitoring it 24 hours a day from our control center in Tulsa.”
A full-time employee has been hired in the Sundance area, part of whose job will be to integrate into the community, attend local meetings, keep the public informed and answer any questions.
Concerns about vandalism were brought up at the recent county commissioners’ meeting, with Jeff Moore of Coates Field Service, speaking on behalf of Oneok, dismissing the possibility that vandals will be a problem.
“I hope they’re at least a half mile away, otherwise they’re going to get caught,” he joked. “I questioned a couple of the engineers and these valves are all over the United States and they’ve never had somebody shoot at one and blow it up. It would take a heck of a bullet to pierce those steel casings.”
Moore will also be looking at various locations along the pipeline, with the help of Road & Bridge Foreman Morgan Ellsbury, to determine what permanent access roads are needed to provide speedy access to the shut-off valves, in case of emergency.
Commissioner Jeanne Whalen also questioned what will happen to the white pipeline markers should they be trampled by cattle or otherwise removed. Maintenance operations, says Borror, will regularly check the markers and replace any that have been damaged.
Should you notice any out-of-the-ordinary activity at the pipeline, however, Borror stresses that the company welcomes calls and will certainly address them.