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Bakken Oil Pipeline Will Have to Wait A Little Longer For Final Iowa Permit

After winning Iowa regulators’ approval in early March, backers of the Bakken crude oil-driven Dakota Access Pipeline will have to wait for a permit to start construction of the four-state, 1,154-mile pipeline later this month.

Energy Transfer Partners' (ETP) Dakota Access Pipeline will begin construction simultaneously in all of the states once the project satisfies the final conditions of its March 10 approval from the Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) (see Shale DailyMarch 11). On Thursday, the IUB outlined six items that the ETP unit must fulfill to get to the final decision and order.

On March 18, Iowa regulators denied the pipeline backers' request to expedite the process and start construction of the $3.8 billion crude oil pipeline, which is primed to break ground in three other states (see Shale DailyMarch 28). Dakota Access Pipeline filed a subsequent "motion for clarification" and to set a permitting schedule that was denied March 24.

A revised filing (amended Exhibit H) is now due from ETP's unit dealing with parcel-specific changes that the regulators made as part of their conditioned approval of the pipeline project and the condemnation request of Dakota Access on some parcels where easements could not be worked out with landowners.

Going forward, "if the landowner of one or more of those parcels refuses to cooperate with any additional surveying or other activities necessary for the preparation of the revised Exhibit H documents, then on next Friday [April 8], Dakota Access can file a statement to that effect and the IUB may proceed in this matter on the basis of the original proposed route across such property," an IUB spokesperson told NGI's Shale Daily.

By Tuesday (April 5) the regulators ordered project backers to file a status report regarding each of the parcels revised in Exhibit H documents, stating whether landowner cooperation is required to prepare the requested documents, why it is required, and the status of that cooperation.

"Once the IUB finds that the Dakota Access filings are in compliance with both its March 10 conditioned order and Thursday's order, the board will issue a permit and construction can begin," the spokesperson said. Project sponsors must assure the board that the route and all of the landowner issues have been resolved before ground will be broken.

Last month, Dakota Access had obtained more than 88% of the easements needed to cross the nearly 3,700 separate properties along its complete route. On a state-by-state basis, the percentages varied, but Iowa remained the lowest -- 97% in North Dakota; 93% in South Dakota; 92% in Illinois; and 82% in Iowa.

When it issued it conditioned approval, the IUB said a permit would not be issued to Dakota Access Pipeline LLC until additional terms and conditions in its order were met by the pipeline company.

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