Enbridge Energy Partners LP won North Dakota regulatory approval for its long-sought, $2.5 billion Sandpiper oil pipeline, which is designed to stretch the reach of Bakken and western Canadian oil supplies into new markets.

In approving the 616-mile project that will expand by 225,000 b/d an existing pipeline from Beaver Lodge, ND, to Clearbrook, MN, the three-member North Dakota Public Service Commission (PSC) added several safety requirements in approving the project.

“This pipeline is vital to support North Dakota’s growing energy industry and provide a safe, clean way to transport crude oil,” said Commissioner Julie Fedorchak, noting that pipeline capacity is equivalent to 4,300 truckloads of crude oil daily. “It will reduce pressure on the rails, eliminate trucks from the road, and help to reduce congestion in our transportation system and improve public safety.”

North Dakota Pipeline Co. LLC, the operator of the existing line and Sandpiper, is required to take several actions to beef up safety programs, including hiring an emergency response coordinator, offering comprehensive public safety education programs, and developing emergency response plans. Construction and operation plans will include specific safety measures.

Enbridge President Mark Maki called the state approval, following federal approvals last month (see Shale Daily, May 16), a “great milestone” for the state, industry and the Sandpiper project.

“The economy in the region and nation overall continue to benefit from Bakken oil production,” said a Houston-based Enbridge spokesperson. “This project will help get Bakken product to desirable markets, continuing to bolster economic growth.”

From Clearbrook, Sandpiper will interconnect with an Enbridge receipt terminal in Superior, WI, carrying up to 375,000 b/d to this market hub. From there, supplies can be directed on pipelines to refineries across the United State and eastern Canada.

Units of Enbridge and Marathon Petroleum Co. have partnered on Sandpiper with Marathon’s unit owning 37.5%. The new pipeline is expected to begin service by the end of 2016, a similar time frame for two other new interstate oil pipelines from the Bakken to the Cushing, OK, market hub (see Shale Daily, June 24).