WBI Energy, the pipeline and midstream subsidiary of MDU Resources Group, will move forward with construction of its Valley Expansion Pipeline Project in eastern North Dakota and western Minnesota.

WBI Energy has secured the capacity commitments needed for the 38-mile, 16-inch natural gas pipeline that will connect WBI Energy's existing system near Mapleton, North Dakota, with the Viking Gas Transmission Company pipeline near Felton, Minnesota. Survey work has begun on the route and construction is expected to start in early 2018.

"This project was initiated because of customer interest in bringing more natural gas to growing eastern North Dakota and western Minnesota, and that interest certainly was supported during our open season," said Martin Fritz, president and CEO of WBI Energy. "We have signed agreements now from customers and are excited to move forward with the pipeline that will enhance the security of our existing system and support growth in the Red River Valley."

Cost of the expansion is estimated at $55 million to $60 million. The project, which is designed to transport 40 million cubic feet of natural gas per day, is under the jurisdiction of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, like the existing WBI Energy pipeline system. The company will work with FERC on permitting and regulatory requirements, which will include public-information meetings. Subject to approval by FERC, the Valley Expansion Project is expected to be complete and placed in service in 2018.