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North Dakota Gives OK to Bakken Crude Oil Pipeline

North Dakota's Public Service Commission (PSC) has approved a siting permit for a portion of the proposed 1,154-mile Dakota Access Pipeline slated to move Bakken crude oil through seven counties in the state.

Energy Transfer Partners' (ETP) Dakota Access LLC proposes to build and operate the crude oil pipeline, starting in the Bakken with a 100,000 b/d capacity to the Stanley and Ramberg tank terminals, for which its capacity will grow to 600,000 b/d between Watford City's tank terminal and the South Dakota border, the three-member PSC noted in giving its approval.

The action was taken on a 2-0 vote after one commissioner recused himself.

The pipeline would end in Patoka, IL, running from the Bakken/Three Forks play in North Dakota through South Dakota and Iowa on its way to the oil hub in south-central Illinois.

As currently proposed, Dakota Access would transport 450,000 b/d, with a capacity as high as 570,000 b/d or more, which could represent half of current Bakken daily crude oil production, according to ETP. The project would give shippers the ability to access multiple markets, including the Midwest, East Coast and Gulf Coast via Sunoco Logistics Partners’ crude oil terminal facility in Nederland, TX.

The Iowa Utility Board (IUB) is the lone remaining approval needed for ETP's $3.8 billion project. South Dakota's regulators and the Illinois Commerce Commission have both approved permits for the project (see Shale Daily, Dec. 29, 2015).

Julie Fedorchak, PSC chair, said the permit provides for "a sound, safe project that will provide an efficient and environmentally sound way to transport Bakken crude oil for many decades."

The PSC decision comes as pipeline transportation is becoming the predominant means of getting Bakken supplies to market over rail (see Shale Daily, Jan. 19).

In giving the green light to ETP's project, the North Dakota regulators set a half dozen contingencies:

  • Pipeline design, construction and operation must meet federal Department of Transportation standards;
  • Boring of the pipeline must be a minimum number of feet under the Missouri River for two proposed crossings;
  • A supervisory control and data acquisition system will be installed to monitor pipeline pressures and volumes;
  • Remote controls will be provided on all valves;
  • Emergency response equipment will be located in four separate locations along the pipeline route; and
  • Work to mitigate impacts on cultural resources will be done in conjunction with the North Dakota Historical Preservation Office.

In addition, the PSC approval identified 35 requirements for safety and reclamation, including stripping and segregating topsoil.

After starting at the Stanley tank terminal, the Dakota Access Pipeline will exit North Dakota southeast of Westfield, ND.

PSC Commissioner Brian Kalk said the pipeline project is important to the state's ongoing efforts to "improve its crude oil transportation network to ensure our products are moved safely and efficiently."

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