Hess ready to use expanded Tioga gas plant

TIOGA, N.D. – Hess Corp. will begin transitioning next week to an expanded natural gas processing plant here which will double the company’s capacity and reduce flaring of natural gas.

The expanded Tioga Gas Plant will be able to process up to 250 million cubic feet of natural gas per day, said Steve McNally, Bakken Asset Manager for Hess.

The existing plant is “maxed out” at about 110 million cubic feet per day, McNally said. The expansion will give Hess enough capacity to process all of its natural gas, as well as meet the company’s future needs and process natural gas produced by other companies, he said.

“This plant will help bring flaring down,” McNally said.

During the transition, however, landowners may notice an increase in flaring while the plant is shut down temporarily, he said.

Starting next week, Hess will begin to essentially turn off the plant so the old plant can be tied into the new expansion.

“You have to make physical connections between the old plant and the new plant,” McNally said.

Hess also has some maintenance planned for the old plant that can only be performed when it’s shut down, he said.

The plant should be fully operational at the end of the year or early 2014, McNally said.

Landowners and mineral owners received letters alerting them to the transition.

The oil industry currently flares about 29 percent of the natural gas produced in North Dakota due to a lack of infrastructure to capture and process it.

The goal of Hess Corp. is to get flaring below 10 percent by 2017, McNally said.

Justin Kringstad, director of the North Dakota Pipeline Authority, said projects such as the Hess expansion are crucial to reducing flaring, but the state also needs additional gas gathering and transmission.

Getting the gas-gathering lines in place takes time because it involves working with landowners and securing right-of-ways, McNally said.

Hess is nearing completion on a program that adds six sections of gathering lines, McNally said. As Hess drills new wells, the intent is to tie gas-gathering lines in as they’re drilling, he said.

Hess began designing the expansion to its plant in 2009 and has had up to 1,200 workers per day working on construction, McNally said.

Earlier this week, ONEOK Partners announced plans to construct a new natural gas processing plant near Watford City with a capacity of up to 200 million cubic feet per day. Completion is anticipated for the end of 2015.

North Dakota produced more than 1 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day in September.

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