Berthold agrees to zoning change for Enbridge pipeline project; company to pay city $275K

By Dale Wetzel, AP
Thursday, October 7, 2010

Berthold drops oil pipeline objections, gets $275K

BISMARCK, N.D. — Enbridge Inc. plans to start construction next week on eight new oil truck unloading stations near Berthold that are part of the pipeline company’s plan to increase its ability to pump oil from western North Dakota’s producing region.

The project was delayed in August, when the Berthold City Council rejected the company’s application to rezone its 80-acre building site west of Berthold for industrial use.

However, the council unanimously decided this week to support the project after Enbridge agreed to pay the city $275,000 and request that its property be annexed, which will provide a boost for Berthold’s property tax revenues.

Enbridge will also pay to install new lanes on U.S. Highway 2 close to an existing railroad crossing on the four-lane highway near Berthold. The lanes will allow oil trucks to stop at the crossing without blocking highway traffic.

“Both sides were looking to agree on something that was mutually beneficial, and I think we’ve really accomplished that,” Enbridge spokeswoman Kesley Myhre said Thursday.

Enbridge had asked the North Dakota Public Service Commission, which regulates the pipeline industry, to overrule the Berthold City Council’s refusal to allow the zoning change. The commission had scheduled a hearing next month in Berthold.

“I hope that everybody is satisfied with the resolution,” said Kevin Cramer, the Public Service Commission’s chairman. “The encouraging thing is that this very large investment in a pipeline can continue.”

Bruce Homeniuk, an Enbridge engineering supervisor in Minot, said in a letter to the PSC that construction would begin right away.

Enbridge, which is based in Calgary, Alberta, wants to build new 80,000-barrel storage tanks and an oil truck unloading station near its existing facilities in Berthold. The company is reactivating an unused pipeline from Berthold to its Steelman terminal in southeastern Saskatchewan.

The project is part of a regional effort to increase the oil transport capacity of Enbridge’s North Dakota pipeline network from 161,500 to 306,500 barrels daily.

Berthold Mayor Alan Lee said both Enbridge and the city made concessions on the zoning agreement. The $275,000 could be used to improve the local sewer and water system, expand its fire and ambulance stations and help start a day care center, Lee told The Minot Daily News.

“They got what they needed and wanted, and I think, definitely, it’s going to be good for the city,” Lee said.

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