Government

North Dakota regulators approve Bakken pipeline

Iowa is only remaining state to decide on permit for 1.168-mile route

Hundreds of miles of pipe, each about 30 inches in diameter by 100 feet long, sit in storage in Newton as photographed o
Hundreds of miles of pipe, each about 30 inches in diameter by 100 feet long, sit in storage in Newton as photographed on Wednesday, October 14, 2015. The Bakken group is in the process of securing land for its pipeline project and preparing for the build, despite the fact the line hasn't been approved in Iowa. (Andy Abeyta/The Gazette)

BISMARCK. N.D. — North Dakota regulators unanimously granted a route permit in the state Wednesday for what will be the largest crude oil pipeline out of the state’s fruitful Bakken oil field, leaving Iowa as the only state left to decide on the 1,168-mile Dakota Access Pipeline.

The Public Service Commission voted 2-0 to grant the permit for Dakota Access LLC, a subsidiary of Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners, which plans to initially ship up to 450,000 barrels of oil per day on the pipeline from the Bakken and Three Forks production areas in North Dakota.

Commissioner Randy Christmann abstained from voting, having recused himself from discussions on the pipeline after learning that the revised route will cross his mother-in-law’s property and that she is negotiating an easement with Dakota Access.

The pipeline will start near Stanley and cross South Dakota and Iowa on its way to Patoka, Ill., where crude will be shipped to Midwest and Gulf Coast refineries. The North Dakota leg will stretch 358 miles and account for $1.4 billion of the project’s total $3.8 billion cost. The Iowa portion, if approved, would cross 18 counties.

Commission Chairwoman Julie Fedorchak called it a “massive” infrastructure project that will provide a safer option than moving oil by trains or trucks. About 41 percent of oil produced in the Williston Basin, or 520,000 barrels per day, was shipped by rail in November, down from a high of about 840,000 barrels in late 2014, according to the state Pipeline Authority.

Fedorchak said the PSC conducted an “exhaustive” review of the project and addressed concerns about reclamation and routing.

Dakota Access also has obtained permits from regulators in Illinois and South Dakota and expects the Iowa Utilities Board to issue its decision this quarter, project spokeswoman Lisa Dillinger said via email. The Iowa board has set meetings to discuss it from Feb. 8 to 11.

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The company has secured voluntary easement agreements on 85 percent of properties along the four-state route, including 88 percent in North Dakota, 92 percent in South Dakota, 78 percent in Iowa and 86 percent in Illinois, Dillinger said, though PSC officials said the North Dakota figure is up to 95 percent.

Dakota Access expects to start construction this quarter and have the pipeline in service by the fourth quarter of 2016, depending on regulatory approvals.

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