Dakota Access Pipeline: Update 2020

February 6, 2020 - By 

The Dakota Access Pipeline is a $3.7 billion underground pipeline system built by Dakota Access, a subsidiary of Energy Transfer Crude Oil Company, and operated by Sunoco Logistics Partners. The pipeline is 1,168mi (1,880km) long, with varying diameters of 12, 20, 24 and 30 inches along the length at designated tank terminals, and is engineered to carry up to 570,000 barrels daily of light sweet crude oil from the Bakken and Three Forks oil region of North Dakota to Patoka, Illinois. Per an agreement between Energy Transfer Partners and Sunoco Logistics Partners, Sunoco holds a 40% interest in Bakken Holdings Company, which has a 75% stake in Dakota Access, LLC.

The pipeline originates in Mountrail County, North Dakota and traverses through Williams, Mckenzie, Dunn, Mercer, Morton and Emmons counties. It crosses through Campbell, McPherson, Edmunds, Faulk, Spink, Beadle, Kingsbury, Miner, Lake, McCook, Minnehaha, Turner, and Lincoln counties in South Dakota, and continues through portions of Iowa and Illinois before reaching its destination at Patoka in Marion County, Illinois. There, the crude oil is shipped off to oil refineries and processing facilities located in the Midwest and Gulf Coast region.

The Dakota Access Pipeline was constructed in 2016 and has been successfully transporting 450,000 barrels of crude oil daily to its destination. Following the 2018 approval by the U.S. Corps of Engineers (USCAE), the pipeline is currently in the process of expansion and optimization in order to accommodate its maximum capacity of 570,000 barrels daily in 2020.

“The project is designed to transport 450,000 barrels of crude oil a day, which would be increased to 570,000 barrels a day, based on public demand,” stated a USCAE spokesperson after the Corps’ initial approval of construction on the pipeline in 2015.

US Corps of Engineers Permitting and Approval

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers handles the evaluation and permitting of all water crossings under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act, and Sections 10 and 14 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899. Although the USACE has jurisdiction over only 37 miles of the pipeline’s total length of 1,168 miles, this critical region encompasses 202 jurisdictional water crossings and required the USACE to review and complete these each as part a single project.

The USACE has worked painstakingly to meet its full obligations under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act. To this end, the USACE completed cultural resource surveys for their specific jurisdictional areas and facilitated site surveys with individual Native American tribes. The Corps engaged in over 250 consultations with the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP), as well as respective State Historic Preservation Offices and Tribal Historic Preservation Offices or other designated Tribal representatives during the process of evaluation, approval and review of the pipeline project.

USACE is responsible for supporting economic development in the region under their jurisdiction, as well as ensuring that measures are taken to minimize negative impacts to the environment and the Missouri River Reservoirs therein. The Corps supports the development of energy projects in an environmentally sound manner in accordance with EO 1360.

Pipeline Construction Details

Dakota Access PipelineThe project consists of a long supply line extending for 148 miles (238km) and long mainline extending for 210 miles (338km), covering a total distance of 358 miles (576km) in North Dakota, with six tank terminal sites in Mountrail, Williams, and McKenzie counties. The South Dakota segment of the pipeline is 272 miles (437.7km) long with one tank terminal located in Spink County. The Iowa section of the pipeline is 343 miles (552km) long, and the Illinois segment is the shortest, extending for 195 miles (313.8km).

The pipeline also features safety valves that are distributed along it route, including 20 valves along the supply line in North Dakota, 25 valves along the mainline in North Dakota, and 40 valves along the South Dakota segment. A total of six pig launchers and receivers are located along its entire length.

The Dakota Access Pipeline was built by union contractors Michels Pipeline Construction, a division of Michels Corporation, and Precision Pipeline, who in turn subcontracted such top firms as Caterpillar, John Deere, and Vermeer to provide heavy construction labor and equipment.

Energy Transfer Partners hired Key Agricultural Services and Duraroot to provide land reclamation services, as well as to monitor the construction phase of the project, and advise on surveying and acquisition.

Benefits of Dakota Access Pipeline

The Dakota Access Pipeline has fulfilled its mission of increasing the amount of crude oil shipped by underground pipeline, while reducing the need for shipment by rail and truck, effectively reducing carbon waste caused by these traditional methods of transport. Currently transporting 450,000 barrels of crude oil daily, the pipeline’s capacity will be increased to 570,000 barrels a day, based on increases in public demand, in 2020.

The project also provides significant economic benefits for its host states by generating sales tax revenues, as well as by procuring necessary goods and services from local businesses along it entire route, contributing to the growth of local economies.

The construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline also improved local economies by generating some 8,000 to 12,000 temporary jobs during its active construction phase, in addition to some 40 permanent jobs required for its ongoing operation.

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