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Iowa Regulators Deny Request to Expedite Bakken Oil Pipeline

In the wake of their conditioned approval earlier this month, Iowa regulators refused to be rushed, and denied a request from Energy Transfer Partners' (ETP) Dakota Access Pipeline to expedite approval of a permit to begin construction of a crude oil interstate pipeline that is primed to break ground in three other states.

In addition, the Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) went into closed session on the project Friday and scheduled a public hearing on the issues for Tuesday afternoon.

The IUB members will discuss issues regarding the multi-billion-dollar, proposed 1,154-mile pipeline that have arisen since the board's March 10 conditional approval (see Shale Daily, March 11). In denying the earlier ETP petition for accelerated handling of the permit, the IUB said  Dakota Access backers have indicated "time is of the essence and that the issues have been fully discussed."

Subsequent to the conditional approval, the Sierra Club Iowa chapter challenged the need for expedited treatment, arguing that "a thorough review of [the pipeline's] compliance filing is required."

A Dakota Access spokesperson  told NGI's Shale Daily that project crews are preparing for the start of construction, but no ground has been broken yet. "Once pipeline construction begins [in North Dakota, South Dakota, Illinois and Iowa], it will be done in spreads with multiple spreads simultaneously under construction in each state," the spokesperson said.

In its subsequent reluctance to accelerate the permitting process, the IUB said "these compliance filings are not perfunctory, parties and the board must have time to review the filings to determine whether they are in compliance with the terms and conditions of the [original] board order."

The three-member IUB also said that there are parcel-specific changes required by Dakota Access that need to be made regarding changes in the pipeline developer's condemnation request for part of the route.

At issue are terms and conditions spelled out in the IUB's March 10 approval that so far has 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 vary from 97% in North Dakota to 82% in Iowa, with South Dakota and Illinois at 93% and 92%, respectively, according to the ETP spokesperson.

The conditions mandate that ETP must maintain liability insurance, file guarantees of remediation of damages, modify easements, and continue to make the same easement offers to landowners, among a list of other measures.

Dakota Access LLC filed its petition with the IUB in January last year. The $3.8 billion project would have 100,000 b/d of capacity for its initial segment to the Stanley and Ramberg tank terminals in North Dakota, from which takeaway capacity would be expanded to carry up to 600,000 b/d between Watford City's tank terminal and the South Dakota border.

In North Dakota, state officials already have touted the final regulatory approval in Iowa as opening the door to having Dakota Access built before the end of this year (see Shale Daily, March 14).

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