... Dakota Access Protests Shut Down Construction

Dakota Access Protests Shut Down Construction

Over the last month, hundreds of protesters have flocked to North Dakota in efforts to stop the Dakota Access pipeline. Representatives from the Sioux and Lakota tribes and other groups have created such disruption that Energy Transfer Partners, which is building the 1,170-mile pipeline, had to shut down construction.

Dakota Access LLC, the joint venture company developing the $3.8 billion project, filed suit on Aug. 15 to stop protestors near the Standing Rock Sioux reservation in North Dakota from interfering with the construction of the project. The company claimed that the safety of workers was at risk.

The lawsuit states that the protestors “have created and will continue to create a risk of bodily injury and harm to Dakota Access employees and contractors, as well as to law enforcement personnel and other individuals at the construction site.” The company says its workers were threatened and had bottles and rocks thrown at contractors’ vehicles.

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According to some reports, more than 200 people are involved with the protests, which began in April. More than 20 people have been arrested on charges including disorderly conduct and trespassing on the construction site.

The Standing Rock Sioux tribe has sued to block the pipeline and says the Army Corps of Engineers failed to conduct a proper cultural and historical review before granting federal approval for the pipeline.

In legal filings, however, the Corps rejected those claims, saying it consulted extensively with tribal groups, including the Standing Rock Sioux. Energy Transfer Partners says it has acquired the necessary state and federal permits and plans to finish construction by the end of 2016.

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Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier, who has led the law enforcement response to the protests, called the demonstration an “unlawful protest,” and Gov. Jack Dalrymple declared a state of emergency Aug. 19, citing public safety risks.

Amid the protests, Dakota Access LLC has launched a supplemental open season to solicit additional shipper commitments on the pipeline. Along with Energy Transfer Crude Oil Co. LLC (ETCO), the companies are seeking additional backing for transportation service for Bakken/Three Forks production. The Dakota Access and ETCO pipelines, collectively referred to as the Bakken Pipeline System, reach multiple markets through their respective pipeline systems.

The supplemental open season, launched Aug. 12, includes local tariff service on the Dakota Access pipeline from the Bakken/Three Forks play to Patoka, Illinois. It also provides interested parties with the opportunity for joint tariff service from the Bakken/Three Forks play to Nederland, Texas, through a commitment to both the Dakota Access and ETCO pipeline systems.

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Dakota Access is a new 30-in. diameter pipeline from the Bakken/Three Forks production area in North Dakota to market centers in Patoka, Illinois. The pipeline is expected to initially deliver more than 470,000 barrels per day (bpd) of crude oil, but could be expanded to 570,000 bpd. The pipeline has six origin locations in North Dakota. The construction of terminals began in January 2016, mainline pipeline construction began in May 2016, and all major materials and equipment have been procured. The pipeline will also provide shippers with access to Midwestern refineries, unit-train rail loading facilities to enable deliveries to East Coast refineries and the Gulf Coast market through an interconnection in Patoka with the ETCO Pipeline, which will provide crude oil transportation service from the Midwest to the Sunoco Logistics Partners and Phillips 66 storage terminals located in Nederland, Texas.

ETCO Pipeline, formerly one of the Trunkline pipelines, is a converted natural gas pipeline from Patoka to the Sunoco Terminal in Nederland, Texas. The pipeline consists of 62 miles of new 30-in. diameter pipe, 686 miles of converted 30-in. diameter pipe and 40 miles of converted 24-in. diameter pipe. Construction of the new pipe began in April 2016. Both the pipe conversion and the pump stations are more than 90 percent complete.

Both Dakota Access and Energy Transfer Crude Oil projects are expected to be ready for service by the end of 2016.