Although they won't say when full capacity will be reached next year, backers of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) made clear this week that the vision of creating a pipeline route for Bakken sweet crude production in North Dakota to the Gulf Coast is now a reality.

DAPL and the Energy Transfer Crude Oil Co. (ETCO) projects make up the Bakken Pipeline System, which has expanded its capacity based on a successful open season earlier this year, a Texas-based spokesperson for Energy Transfer Partners (ETP) told NGI's Shale Daily on Wednesday.

The $6.78 billion, nearly 1,200-mile DAPL runs from North Dakota through four states to a hub in south-central Illinois at Patoka. From there the 788-mile ETCO converted natural gas pipeline carries the crude oil to the Gulf Coast at Nederland, TX.

"The combined system has a total capacity of up to approximately 570,000 b/d, and it can be expanded to this," the spokesperson said.

Dakota Access and ETCO have commitments including "shipper flexibility and walk-up" for approximately 520,000 b/d, the spokesperson said. "This is up from 470,000 b/d due to the successful supplemental open season held earlier this year that committed an additional 50,000 b/d."

An analysis late last month indicated that DAPL likely will not reach the 470,000 b/d capacity until next year, according to ESAI Energy LLC, but the ETP spokesperson reiterated that the combined system (DAPL and ETCO) has a total capacity of approximately 570,000 b/d.

"I don’t know where the capacity build up information [from ESAI] came from as we don’t provide that," she said.

Flows began in March from the North Dakota-based DAPL, but they were not expected to reach amarket hub in south-central Illinois until mid-May.