Dakota Access Pipeline enters commercial service

By Patrick C. Miller | June 06, 2017

Nearly a half year after it was originally scheduled to enter service, the Dakota Access Pipeline last week began transporting 520,000 barrels per day of light sweet crude from the Bakken shale play in western North Dakota to a hub near Patoka, Illinois.

Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners—which built the $3.8 billion, 1,172-mile-long pipeline—announced June 1 that the Dakota Access and the Energy Transfer Crude Oil (ETCO) pipelines both entered commercial service. The company said the pipeline’s capacity could be expanded to 570,000 barrels per day.

Energy Transfer Partners initially said the Dakota Access Pipeline would be in commercial operation before the end of 2016. However, protests near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in south central North Dakota, legal challenges and intervention by the Obama administration delayed the project’s completion for several months.

Earth Justice, an environmental organization representing the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in an ongoing lawsuit against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, said in a statement posted on its website that it soon expects a federal judge to rule on whether the Dakota Access pipeline can be halted.

“We will continue to battle the operation of this pipeline in court and remind everyone that just because the oil is flowing now doesn't mean that it can't be stopped,” said David Archambault, Standing Rock tribal chairman. “The courts can stop it by demanding that the administration be held accountable for the full environmental impact statement it initiated and then abandoned.”

Covering a 1,872-mile route, the 30-inch Dakota Access and ETCO pipelines are collectively known at the Bakken Pipeline, which is owned by Dakota Access, LLC and Energy Transfer Crude Oil Co. LLC.

The 700-mile long ETCO pipeline—a converted natural gas pipeline—connects the Patoka terminal to additional terminals in Nederland, Texas, along the Gulf Coast. The combined cost of the Bakken Pipeline was $4.78 billion. 

Energy Transfer partners said in a news release that the Bakken Pipeline provides “a more direct, cost-effective, safer and more environmentally responsible manner than other modes of transportation, including rail or truck.”

The Bakken Pipeline is a joint venture between Energy Transfer Partners with a 38.25 percent interest, MarEn Bakken Co. LLC with a 36.75 percent interest and Phillips 66 with a 25 percent interest. MarEn is  owned by MPLX LP and Enbridge Energy Partners LP.