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Dakota Access Oil Pipeline Path Avoids Federal Lands; 96% of Route Acquired

Energy Transfer Partners' (ETP) Dakota Access Pipeline LLC unit has kept passage over federal lands to a minimum for its four-state, 1,172-mile project to ship Bakken crude oil to markets along the East and Gulf coasts, the ETP executive in charge of building the $3.8 billion line said Tuesday in a presentation at the Williston Basin Petroleum Conference in Bismarck, ND.

Now under construction in three of the four states (see Shale DailyMay 2), the 30-inch diameter oil pipeline, which is on track to be completed by the end of this year, provides a "safer, cleaner and cheaper" means of getting increased Bakken supplies to markets throughout the nation, focused on the Gulf and East coasts, said Joey Mahmoud, ETP senior vice president for engineering. "It is a pretty important project for the Bakken as a whole.

"One of the little recognized successes of this project is that out of 1,172-mile route, we literally cross federal land for less than five miles of the entire length," Mahmoud said. "That is less than 0.5% of the project in which you have to deal with the federal government." Overall, including various river crossings from a jurisdictional standpoint, the amount of the project falling under federal oversight is less than 3.5%, he said.

"Part of our strategy has been to minimize permitting and to minimize federal involvement and environmental permitting," said Mahmoud, although he noted construction has still not begun in Iowa because of lingering permitting issues tied to state requirements for notification of local authorities along the route (see Shale DailyApril 11).

"We went way out of our way to avoid federal lands and any sort of public lands," Mahmoud said. "That minimizes impact on the public as well as the pipeline development; 99.5% of the project is on private land."

As the operator of 71,000 miles of pipeline, ETP is committed to state-of-the-art practices and material in the new pipeline, for which all of the $1.5 billion in materials is on the ground in spreads along the four-state route, Mahmoud said.

"We have very robust safety and leak detection systems, all brand new pipe, all of the materials are of the highest quality, and every valve on the job has remote actuation on it," he said. "One of our goals is to increase our safety standards along the pipeline."

In North Dakota, 2,000-4,000 workers will be working at any given time on the construction with about 500 workers for each spread, according to Mahmoud. He said there is about 2 million b/d of capacity in the pipeline's overall gathering area, emphasizing that ETP is only building a line that connects with various gathering systems that come into its storage tanks; it is not building any gathering infrastructure.

"These are what we call 'clean barrels' so what we get in the Bakken is what the refiners get in the Gulf," Mahmoud said. "Other than producers who take their supplies off in Patoka, IL, to go up to Chicago or to the East, those barrels go clean all the way to the Gulf as a seamless option for shippers."

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