Enbridge project director: Sandpiper pipeline plan could be in jeopardy

By Robb Jeffries
Forum News Service

ST. PAUL – Regardless of environmental feasibility, the Sandpiper pipeline project might not happen if the originally proposed route is not followed.

Paul Eberth, Sandpiper’s project manager, testified Tuesday at an evidentiary hearing for the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission that the North Dakota Pipeline Company, a subsidiary of Enbridge, may scrap their application for the roughly 616-mile pipeline if it doesn’t follow what the company deems as critical factors in the application — a pipeline that stretches from near Tioga, N.D., to Clearbrook, Minn., and on to Superior, Wis.

Eberth was asked if a pipeline built along one of the eight proposed “system alternatives” — routes proposed by entities other than NDPC, most of which do not pass through Clearbrook or Superior — could benefit the local economies of towns near the route.

He agreed towns along system alternative routes would benefit financially from having a pipeline near them, but said he doesn’t think any pipeline outside of Enbridge’s preferred route would actually be built.

“I personally don’t think those benefits would be realized because there isn’t economic support for the system alternatives,” Eberth said.

Economic support comes in the form of shipping agreements, and Eberth said the agreements Enbridge have secured hinge on the Sandpiper’s route passing through Clearbrook and Superior.

“The system alternatives proposed by others are fundamentally different projects,” Eberth said after Tuesday’s session. “Connections at Clearbrook and Superior are the underpinnings of our contracts with shippers and our approved Federal Energy Regulatory Commission rate structure. There is no commercial support for the system alternatives.”

That particular route gives Enbridge a high degree of interconnectivity to existing terminals and pipelines. Oil could be sent from the Clearbrook terminal to Twin Cities refineries, while Bakken crude sent to Sandpiper’s proposed terminus could be sent south to refineries in Illinois. Routes that do not hit those two terminals give Enbridge’s clients, the oil companies shipping the crude oil from the Bakken, fewer options on where to refine their product, Eberth said.

The evidentiary hearing will continue daily at 9 a.m. through Friday in St. Paul. Administrative Law Judge Eric Lipman, who is presiding over the hearing, will submit a report to the PUC in April, with a final decision on the project’s certificate of need coming from the commission in June.

Pending approval of the certificate of need, the tall task of approving a route will be the next order of business for the PUC.

No Keystone XL means more oil by rail, report says

Without the Keystone XL Pipeline, as many as 14 additional trains carrying crude oil could come through North Dakota and Minnesota every day, according to a report released Friday on the pipeline.

The U.S. State Department issued its final Environmental Impact Statement on the Keystone XL, which would connect oil sands production in Alberta to refineries on the Gulf Coast.

North Dakota’s congressional delegation said the report shows no need to further delay the controversial pipeline. President Barack Obama has been criticized for not granting federal approval, which is required because the pipeline would cross the U.S.-Canadian border.

Environmental concerns have held up the permitting process. But the analysis released Friday shows that greenhouse gas emissions would be higher with rail transportation than Keystone XL. It also says the rail alternatives pose a greater likelihood of spills and more potential for injuries and fatalities than the pipeline option.

The report says the proposed pipeline is not likely to affect the pace of development of the Canadian oil sands, and without the Keystone XL, that oil would instead travel by rail to the Gulf Coast.

Under alternatives outlined in the report, up to 12 unit trains – each with about 100 cars – of oil would leave Saskatchewan each day and two additional unit trains would leave Epping, N.D., carrying Bakken crude per day.

One scenario has all 14 trains potentially traveling through North Dakota and Minnesota each day, heading south to refineries on the Gulf Coast. Another scenario has some trains traveling through North Dakota and some through Minnesota before connecting with pipelines in Oklahoma.

“The alternatives make no sense,” said Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D. “(An additional) 1,400 rail cars per day going through our state because the president wouldn’t approve a pipeline? From a common-sense standpoint, that also puts some real pressure on him to make the right decision.”

A third scenario if Keystone XL is not built is for the Canadian oil to move by rail west to British Columbia, where it is loaded onto ocean-going tankers and shipped to the Gulf Coast via the Panama Canal. The rail alternatives would require an additional rail-loading facility to be built in Epping, the report says.

The 11-volume report does not make a recommendation on whether to approve the application by TransCanada Corp., a process that began more than five years ago.

Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., and Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., joined Hoeven Friday in urging Obama to immediately approve the project, which does not pass through North Dakota, but would go through Montana and South Dakota on the way to Texas.

Heitkamp said the report affirmed what officials thought it would say, that permitting the Keystone XL would not have a significant environmental impact. Cramer said it should be “abundantly clear” that pipelines are the safest and most efficient way to move oil to market.

North Dakota already has 10 to 12 trains leaving the state per day carrying Bakken crude, the North Dakota Pipeline Authority estimates, and that is expected to increase as the state approaches producing 1 million barrels of oil per day.

Keystone XL has the capacity to transport up to 100,000 barrels of Bakken crude from an oil terminal near Baker, Mont. The project has firm commitments for up to 65,000 barrels per day currently, the report says.

Ron Ness, president of the North Dakota Petroleum Council, said the pipeline would take 500 trucks off the state’s roads daily and provide another way to get Bakken crude to market, which could increase its value.

Wayde Schafer, executive director of the Bismarck-based Dacotah Chapter of the Sierra Club, said members don’t think Canadian oil sands oil should be transported at all.

“The tar sands oil emits two to three times the global warming pollution of conventional oil,” Schafer said. “The relevant question is this: should we be using tar sands oil as an energy source?”

The State Department estimates Keystone XL would support 42,100 jobs during construction and about 50 jobs during operation of the pipeline.

Jess Keesis, mayor of Winner, S.D., which is along the Keystone XL proposed route, said most landowners in the area support the pipeline.

“We’re ready for it,” Keesis said.

John Meyer, a small business owner in Winner who testified in Washington in favor of the Keystone XL, estimates the county will see a 37 percent increase in tax revenue.

“The economic impact for our area, for our schools and our counties, it’s phenomenal,” Meyer said.

The next step for the Keystone XL is a 90-day comment period on the report released Friday. Hoeven said he plans to work through Congress to either approve the project or set a deadline for the administration. Heitkamp said she’s concerned about making sure a decision is made this construction season.

But Schafer said he doesn’t think the North Dakota delegation is looking at the big picture.

“Very little Bakken crude would even be transported along the Keystone XL,” Schafer said. “It seems to me that we should just build a pipeline for the Bakken oil because the tar sand oil is a much more dirty oil.”


Reporters Bryan Horwath and Cali Owings contributed to this report.

Power company plan could speed Bakken pipeline progress

BISMARCK – A Duluth, Minn., energy company announced Wednesday it plans to create an energy corridor that could efficiently transport oil and natural gas produced in North Dakota and reduce natural gas flaring.

ALLETE, an energy company that has a 465-mile electrical transmission line from central North Dakota to Duluth, said it plans to work with other energy companies to locate pipelines along its existing right-of-way.

ALLETE officials made the announcement from the North Dakota Capitol Wednesday with Gov. Jack Dalrymple and members of the EmPower North Dakota Commission.

No specific projects have been proposed, but the energy corridor could accommodate several pipelines for transporting oil or natural gas, as well as wastewater and carbon sequestered from fossil fuel.

Pipeline companies have to obtain right-of-way from private landowners. The idea is that locating pipelines adjacent to the transmission line would be more efficient and less disruptive to landowners than establishing several different rights-of-way.

“We think it can bring a certain amount of efficiency and ease landowner fatigue here in North Dakota,” said ALLETE President, Chairman and CEO Alan Hodnik.

Dalrymple thanked company officials for their “tremendous vision” and said he hopes the corridor will help the state meet its goal of reducing natural gas flaring.

“I would like to see this corridor become part of the achievement of a large natural gas pipeline from the Bakken region to the east,” Dalrymple said. “I think the odds of that taking place are greatly enhanced by this concept.”

ALLETE has a 250-kilovolt line, purchased in 2009, that transmits electricity from the lignite-fired Young Generation Station in Center, N.D., and the nearby Bison Wind Energy Center to Duluth. The company is working to extend its right-of-way 60 miles to the west to the Bakken region.

“This corridor provides the shortest distance and most direct path from the Bakken formation east,” said Eric Norberg, president of ALLETE Clean Energy, a subsidiary of ALLETE.

The company is studying several projects but was not ready to announce any specifics Wednesday, Norberg said.

In addition to transporting oil and natural gas, the corridor would promote expansion of wind energy to western North Dakota by increasing export capacity, officials said.

The corridor also could be used to move water or wastewater by pipeline in western North Dakota and to promote recycling of water for hydraulic fracturing by transporting it to a central location, Norberg said.

A future emphasis will be to capture carbon dioxide from coal-fired power plants, which would reduce emissions and could be used in enhanced oil recovery in the Bakken.

Any proposed projects would still need to go through regulatory permitting processes. Companies also would need to negotiate compensation and surface agreements with landowners along the corridor.

Justin Kringstad, director of the North Dakota Pipeline Authority, said the pace of development has meant that landowners are dealing with multiple right-of-way requests for pipelines, electrical lines and other infrastructure.

“The concept of trying to minimize that to a certain degree is encouraging,” Kringstad said.

Rookie cops in Oil Patch get ‘thrown into the mix’

Watford City Police Chief Jesse Wellen, left, and Sgt. Shannon Monnens, both Minnesota natives, respond to a call in an RV park in Watford City, N.D., on Thursday, May 23, 2013. Amy Dalrymple/Forum News Service

WILLISTON, N.D. – Cops in the Oil Patch say one year of experience there is what they’d see in five years elsewhere.

As North Dakota’s oil boom brings a spike in police calls to growing communities, many of the officers on the front lines are rookies in their early to mid-20s.

“They’ve been thrown in the fire with gas on top of them,” said Williston police Detective Cory Collings.

A majority of the new hires come from Minnesota, where tight budgets make law enforcement jobs harder to get.

The level of activity enticed Stacey Eissinger, 25, of Lakeville, Minn., to apply with the Williston Police Department. She’s been training in a squad car with eight bullet holes and will begin working on her own later this week.

“It is so busy here and so many intense things happen,” said Eissinger, a graduate of the Alexandria, Minn., law enforcement program. “I probably couldn’t get this experience somewhere else.”

In the neighboring community of Watford City, the police department’s oldest members are 28.

Sgt. Shannon Monnens, 28, a former Duluth, Minn., dispatcher, worked as a police officer in quiet Babbitt, Minn., for six months before she moved to Watford City.

Now loaded weapons, drug busts and vehicle pursuits are routine.

“As a rookie, usually you want all the action,” Monnens said.

Levi Cabler, 25, of Carrington, was among the officers who responded to a standoff in Williston in April that involved a suspect who fired at police multiple times. No officers were hurt, but authorities returned fire and worked to clear the neighborhood before the suspect was wounded and surrendered.

Cabler, a graduate of Lake Region State College in Devils Lake, began working his first law enforcement job with the Williams County Sheriff’s Office five years ago and now is a detective.

“You kind of get thrown into the mix,” Cabler said.

Senior patrolman Travis Martinson of the Williston Police Department trains new officer Stacey Eissinger on Wednesday, May 22, 2013, in Williston, N.D. Both officers are from Minnesota and moved to Williston for their first law enforcement jobs. Amy Dalrymple/Forum News Service

Travis Martinson, 24, of St. Cloud, Minn., is a senior patrolman with the Williston police. He’s worked for the department since 2010, which he jokes makes him practically a veteran.

One obstacle Martinson said he has to overcome is getting respect. He said he’s had people ask him if it was bring your kid to work day.

Martinson, who received his training in Brainerd, Minn., often compares notes with a friend who works for a rural Minnesota police department.

“What they do in a month is what our police department does in a night,” said Martinson, who has had guns pulled on him. “They don’t see what we see out here.”

Carol Archbold, a North Dakota State University criminal justice associate professor, said Oil Patch law enforcement agencies have younger departments than she has typically seen across the country. Archbold, who has studied police departments since 1996, is researching the impact of North Dakota’s oil boom on law enforcement.

One reason the departments struggle to attract experienced officers is that the lack of housing makes it difficult to recruit officers with families, Archbold said.

While the increase in police calls is a big responsibility for the young officers, particularly those who have advanced to leadership positions, there are also benefits of having young departments, Archbold said.

“It’s probably good that they’re young so they can keep up with all of the calls,” Archbold said.

Mountrail County Sheriff Ken Halvorson said most of his new hires are 21 or slightly older with no experience. He said he sees no advantage to hiring young officers, who have a turnover rate of about 50 percent in his county.

“They’re quitting,” Halvorson said. “They find out it’s not like it is on television.”

Halvorson said he struggles to recruit and retain deputies because his county has not increased salaries or provided housing like agencies in some neighboring counties have.

“We’re begging people to come to work,” Halvorson said.

Watford City now boasts one of the highest police salaries in the state, said Chief Jesse Wellen. Starting pay is nearly $50,000, and the city is building apartments that will be available to law enforcement.

In Williston, where 62 percent of the police force is from Minnesota, retaining the new hires hasn’t been a problem so far, said Assistant Police Chief Tom Ladwig. But he expects that will change as people gain experience and want to move closer to their families.

“We know when things open up we’re going to lose some people,” Ladwig said.

But many Minnesota officers said the pay in western North Dakota and the opportunities for advancement may keep them from leaving.

Wellen, 28, from International Falls, Minn., who was promoted to chief this year after less than two years as a cop, has purchased a house in Watford City and expects to be there awhile.

“This early in my career, I’m already the chief of police,” Wellen said. “It’d be hard to start over again.”

Faces of the Boom: For Minnesota-based contractor, N.D. feels ‘almost like family’

Tony Godlewski, vice president of Shingobee Builders of Minnesota, pictured Wednesday, April 17, 2013, stands in front of an iconic building in Crosby, N.D., the company restored. Photo Special to Forum News Service

WILLISTON, N.D. – As a general contractor, Tony Godlewski likes to hear the sound of hammers seven days a week.

But when building activity slowed in his home base of Minnesota, competition for projects became cutthroat and profit margins declined.

“We were all trying to hang on and scrapping for work,” Godlewski said.

Godlewski, senior project manager for Shingobee Builders, decided about three years ago to take a trip to check out North Dakota’s Oil Patch.

The company embraced the idea of bidding some work in northwest North Dakota, and the contractor has been active in the Bakken ever since.

Godlewski has an apartment in Williston and travels from his home of St Michael, Minn., every two weeks to oversee construction projects.

“After three years, I still get excited about coming out here,” Godlewski said.

Shingobee Builders, based in the Twin Cities and St. Cloud, Minn., is a medium-sized general contractor that operates in a five-state region. The firm has 18 superintendents in charge of building projects and last year seven of them were based in North Dakota, Godlewski said.

The company’s first project in the Bakken was the addition and expansion of St. Luke’s Hospital in Crosby, which the builders finished 10 months early, Godlewski said.

The firm also recently completed the Roosevelt Inn & Suites in Watford City, the McDonald’s restaurant and Mountrail-Williams Electric Cooperative warehouse in Williston, and the addition and remodeling project for the Western Cooperative Credit Union headquarters in Dickinson.

One of Godlewski’s favorite projects was saving a former bank building that is iconic in downtown Crosby and renovating it into to a four-unit apartment building with a Verizon Wireless retail outlet on the lower level.

Among the firm’s next projects is the public works facility for the city of Dickinson.

Godlewski recently became vice president of the company, but made sure he can continue working in North Dakota. Part of what keeps him coming back to the state is working with the local officials.

“It’s almost like family,” Godlewski said.

Ruling won’t delay Sandpiper Pipeline, Enbridge officials say

WILLISTON, N.D. – A federal ruling on the proposed Sandpiper Pipeline from western North Dakota to Superior, Wis., will not delay the project, an Enbridge Pipelines spokeswoman said Monday.

The U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission denied a petition from Enbridge on Friday on the basis of its proposed rate structure.

Enbridge officials plan to reassess the rate structure and submit a new plan, said Katie Haarsager, Enbridge community relations adviser.

The Sandpiper Pipeline would run from the Beaver Lodge area south of Tioga, N.D., to Superior, and increase pipeline capacity out of the Bakken by 225,000 barrels per day.

The federal ruling is not expected to affect the timeline for the project, which is anticipated to be in service in early 2016, Haarsager said.

“It’s an added curveball, so to speak,” she said.

Two members of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission dissented from the ruling, including Tony Clark, former member of the North Dakota Public Service Commission.

Clark and Commissioner John Norris wrote that denying the petition will “unduly delay much needed investment in infrastructure.”

The Sandpiper project is supported by the North Dakota Pipeline Authority, said director Justin Kringstad.

“We know that oil production is going to continue to grow in North Dakota and we’re going to need additional pipeline projects and transportation options to continue to move growing volumes in the future,” Kringstad said.

In a separate ruling issued Friday, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission dismissed a complaint from High Prairie Pipeline against Enbridge related to an interconnection at Clearbrook, Minn., saying the two companies should continue negotiations.

Faces of the Boom: Woman creates new career in Oil Patch

Isabella Dangelo fills her pickup with washer fluid Feb. 2 in Williston, N.D., before heading out to drilling rigs. Amy Dalrymple/Forum News Service

WILLISTON, N.D. – Isabella Dangelo traded in her business suits and high heels for Carhartt and steel-toed boots.

And she’s never been happier.

The former Minneapolis woman sold her house and moved to North Dakota a little more than  two years ago to look for oil boom opportunities. She had just gone through a divorce and was worried about paying her mortgage in the midst of a bad economy.

“I was watching what was happening to the economy and I was really scared,” Dangelo said.

Dangelo spent 10 years selling temporary staffing contracts in the Twin Cities. She used those sales skills to get her start in North Dakota selling drill bits.

“I can sell anything. It doesn’t matter what it is,” Dangelo said.

After developing connections in the Williston area, Dangelo decided to go into business on her own. She owns and operates Isabella’s Oilfield Services, a cleaning service that specializes in cleaning the living quarters at drilling rig locations.

“There’s a lot of opportunity out here if people want to take advantage of it,” said Ed Sanders, one of the drilling consultants Dangelo has cleaned for.

Dangelo travels around to different rigs to sell the service to new customers. She has contracts with more than 20 rigs and wants to keep expanding.

In two years in North Dakota, Dangelo was homeless about a dozen times and bounced around to different rooms or cabins she rented. On occassion, the company men would let her stay at the rig location if there was an empty trailer.

“These guys are my family out here. They’re my best friends,” Dangelo said.

Isabella Dangelo, left, visits with drilling consultant Eric Olsen Feb. 2 near Arnegard, N.D. Amy Dalrymple/Forum News Service

She recently moved into a new camper, complete with a fireplace, and lives in an RV park, finally able to feel like she has some stability.

“When everything is always temporary, you never get your bearings,” Dangelo said.

While Dangelo loves sales, her real passion is a conservative Internet radio she launched not long after she moved to North Dakota.

“It started out with me talking to basically me,” Dangelo said. “I was ecstatic if one or two people were listening.”

Now she has a team that helps produce the show, which is live four nights a week at 7 p.m. The archived shows at www.belladangelo.com get an average of 5,000 listeners from around the world, she said.

The first 30 minutes is often “raunchy humor from the rigs,” but then she and other hosts get into hard-hitting topics, Dangelo said. Talking politics with people working in the Oil Patch helped Dangelo build connections.

“My business and my radio show go hand in hand,” she said.

Dangelo has big goals. She wants to continue expanding her cleaning business and she’d like her radio show to be nationally syndicated.

“We’re just around the corner from everything becoming really, really exciting,” Dangelo said.

Fracking death ruled accidental, caused by chest, abdominal injuries

BISMARCK – A Duluth, Minn., man who died at a hydraulic fracturing site Saturday died of chest and abdominal injuries when he was hit by oilfield equipment, the North Dakota Medical Examiner’s Office said in a report issued Tuesday.
The report of death for Mike Krajewski, 49, who worked for Halliburton, ruled his death an accident caused by oilfield equipment that was dislodged by high pressure, striking Krajewski in the chest. The accident occurred about 3:30 p.m. Saturday about 24 miles north of Watford City, N.D.
A team from the Occupational Health and Safety Administration began investigating at the site Tuesday, said Eric Brooks, area director for the Bismarck OSHA office.
A second man, Brad Hong, 55, Halliday, N.D., was injured in the fracking incident.
OSHA also is planning to investigate the site of an oilfield tank battery explosion northwest of Williston that injured two men Friday, but the fatality is taking first priority, Brooks said.

Duluth man dies in oilfield accident north of Watford City

Mike Krajewski of Duluth, Minn., seen here in a photo from summer 2012, died Saturday, Jan. 19, 2013, in an accident at an oil well north of Watford City, N.D.

Amy Dalrymple and Peter Passi
Forum News Service

A Duluth, Minn., man who died in an accident at a hydraulic fracturing site Saturday north of Watford City, N.D., was a family man and Air Force veteran who was proud of the work he was doing in North Dakota, his family said Sunday.

Mike Krajewski, 49, a father of three, died in an incident about 3:30 p.m. Saturday at a Halliburton fracking location about 24 miles north of Watford City, according to the McKenzie County Sheriff’s Office.

The Occupational Health and Safety Administration will conduct a complete investigation, said Sgt. Matt Johansen. Preliminary information indicates that while Krajewski was working, a valve was turned wrong and “somehow a pipe came disconnected and ending up hitting him in the head,” Johansen said.

Greg Krajewski of Belle Fourche, S.D., a brother of Mike Krajewski, said the family has been told that Mike died instantly, and an autopsy will be performed Tuesday.

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is a process to extract oil and gas underground using pressurized fluids and sand. Mike’s job involved pumping fluids at high pressures, Greg said.

Another worker, Brad Hong, 55, of Halliday, N.D., also was hurt Saturday and taken by private vehicle to the McKenzie County Hospital for injuries that were believed to be minor, Johansen said. A hospital official said there was no information available about Hong on Sunday.

A Halliburton spokeswoman said the company will continue to work with local authorities as they investigate the incident. The company said it was not releasing additional information out of respect for the family’s privacy.

“This is a very difficult time for all of us at Halliburton, and our thoughts and prayers are with our employee’s loved ones,” the company said in a statement.

Mike Krajewski was born in California but moved to Duluth, his father’s hometown, as a youth and graduated from Duluth East High School in 1981. He married his high school sweetheart, Lisa, and the couple went on to have three daughters: Ashley, 19; Brianna, 16; and Rachel, 11.

Shortly after graduating from high school, Krajewski joined the U.S. Air Force, where he worked as a firefighter for several years.

After serving in the military, Krajewski went on to become a crash rescue fireman as part of a civilian fire department at Eppley Airfield in Omaha, Neb., where he quickly worked his way up to the rank of captain.

Krajewski next decided to return to Duluth and launch his own painting business.

Last year, he decided to shift gears. After talking to an old friend from his early firefighting days who had found employment with Halliburton, Krajewski joined the company himself.

“He (Mike) was very excited about the opportunity,” said another brother, Joe Krajewski of Duluth. He explained that his brother hoped that after serving on a fracking crew, he would be able to work his way into a firefighting position, as his friend had.

Mike Krajewski was proud of working on a fracking crew in North Dakota and talked about it often, Greg Krajewski said.

“By doing what he was doing, he felt like he was a part of something to help our energy crisis,” he said.

Mike, the oldest of six siblings, adjusted to working a few weeks in North Dakota and then having a week off to spend time with his family in Duluth, Greg said.

“He (Mike) was the eternal optimist,” Joe Krajewski said. “He used the strength of his family and humor to endure the difficult times and was brilliant and humble through the best of times.”

Joe Krajewski said his brother was unafraid to take on new challenges.

“He always dug in his heels and did what needed to be done with his chin held high. He had a lot to be proud of accomplishing in his short life,” Joe said. “He (Mike) will be sorely missed but never forgotten.”

Perhaps more than anything else, Joe Krajewski said his brother will be remembered for his compassion.

“He wore his heart on his sleeve, and whenever someone needed him, they did not need to ask. He was just there,” he said. “For as strong of a man as he was, Mike was also tender. If the measure of a man is his family, then he was the gold standard.”

In addition to his wife and children, Krajewski is survived by his parents, Dennis and Joyce Krajewski of Duluth, as well as two brothers and three sisters.