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ONEOK Inc. (OKE - Analyst Report) announced that one of its subsidiaries has received approval and funding assistance from the North Dakota regulator and North Dakota Public Service Commission (“NDPSC”), respectively. Per the agreement, the company will develop a natural gas processing plant in western North Dakota. The NDPSC has sanctioned $160 million for this new project development.

ONEOK believes that the new establishment will process approximately 100 million cubic feet (“MMcf”) of natural gas on a regular basis. The company expects this project to come online by fall 2014.

We have observed that North Dakota has been witnessing surge in its crude oil production level. Subsequently, as a byproduct of crude oil, chances of gathering more natural gas is also very high in this region and ONEOK will leave no stones unturned to capitalize on this opportunity.

Presently, ONEOK has two natural gas processing facilities in northwestern North Dakota, and another two are under construction. The fifth and latest approved facility, Garden Creek II, will be situated six miles northeast of Watford City, in McKenzie County.

We believe that the addition of this new natural gas processing facility will not only expand ONEOK’s coverage in the North Dakota natural gas market, but will also cater to the growing customer needs. Considering higher natural gas prospects, the company expects to invest $1.8 billion to $1.9 billion for natural gas gathering and processing projects through 2015.

On the flip side, we know that the operations related to natural gas processing and related services are weather sensitive and seasonal in nature. ONEOK’s operation will be exposed to such periodic risk. In addition, the natural gas transportations hazards, particularly in North Dakota, will also negatively impact the overall transported volume.

ONEOK Inc. currently retains a Zacks #3 Rank, which translates into a short-term Hold rating.

Based in Tulsa, Oklahoma, ONEOK Inc. is a diversified energy company, operating as a natural gas distributor, primarily in the United States. The company competes with OGE Energy Corp. (OGE - Analyst Report).

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