PSC OKs permit for Dakota Access Pipeline Project

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The North Dakota Public Service Commission (PSC) approved a siting permit Wednesday for the Dakota Access Pipeline, which will carry crude oil across Dunn, Mountrail, Williams, McKenzie, Mercer, Morton and Emmons Counties in North Dakota.

Dakota Access, LLC, is planning to construct and operate the Dakota Access Pipeline. The capacity of the pipeline varies from start to end with 100,000 barrels per day between the Stanley Tank Terminal and the Ramberg Tank Terminal, increasing incrementally up to 600,000 barrels per day between the Watford City Tank Terminal and the South Dakota border. Six tank terminals are planned along the route: at the starting point near Stanley, near Tioga, near Epping, near Trenton, near Watford City, and near Johnson’s Corner. Other above-ground facilities will include approximately 59 block valves and in-line inspection tool launch and receiver sites. Estimated costs of the entire project is $3.78 billion, with nearly $1.41 billion estimated for the North Dakota portion.

The entire pipeline will run approximately 1,154 miles beginning from the Bakken/Three Forks play in North Dakota through portions of South Dakota and Iowa and ending in Patoka, Illinois. The North Dakota portion consists of approximately 358 miles of crude oil pipeline that increases in diameter incrementally from 12 inches to 20, 24 and ultimately 30 inches.

“This project received thorough review which was totally transparent. We received broad public input. We listened and the company listened,” said Commission Chairman Julie Fedorchak. “The permit today provides for a sound, safe project that will provide an efficient and environmentally sound way to transport Bakken crude oil for many decades.”

The permit approved Wednesday outlines requirements for construction and operation of the project to mitigate impacts of the project. Those measures include the following:

-The design, construction and operation of the pipeline will be in accordance with the U.S. Department of Transportation regulations governing the transportation of crude oil.

-The pipeline will be bored at both locations where it crosses the Missouri River. The estimated depth of the bore beneath the river bed is 35 feet at its northern crossing and 64 feet at its southern crossing. The pipeline will also be bored under the Little Missouri River, the Knife River, the Heart River, and both crossings of Cherry Creek in order to minimize environmental impacts.

-A supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system will be installed to monitor pressure and volumes in and out of the pipeline. Operations will be continuously monitored by a control center.

-All valves will be installed with remote actuators to allow them to be closed remotely in the event of an emergency.

-Emergency response equipment will be located in Epping, Williston, Watford City, and Bismarck.

-The company will work with the North Dakota State Historical Preservation Office to avoid and mitigate impacts to cultural resources.

In addition to the above measures, the Commission spelled out 35 additional requirements for safety and reclamation. The requirements include guidelines for stripping and segregating topsoil; guidelines for fertilization and reseeding in accordance to the Natural Resources Conservation Service recommendations; tree and shrub mitigation and replacement; and responsibility for replacing or repairing fences, gates, and drainage tile damaged as a result of construction. In addition, the Commission has required numerous third-party construction inspections at different stages of the project in order to ensure requirements are being met for construction and reclamation during all phases of the project. The company also is required to provide the Commission and each affected landowner with the name and phone number of the company representative who is responsible for receiving and resolving landowner issues.

“It’s important that projects like the Dakota Access Pipeline move forward as North Dakota continues to improve its crude oil transportation network to ensure our products are moved safely and efficiently,” said Commissioner Brian Kalk.

The pipeline will start at the Stanley Tank Terminal and will exit North Dakota southeast of Westfield.

The permit was approved with two votes after Commissioner Randy Christmann recused himself last week from the case due to a conflict of interest dealing with land owned by his mother-in-law.

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