Dakota Access Pipeline capacity expansion could move 1.1 million barrels per day, operator says

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By Blake Nicholson and Jack Dura Bismarck Tribune

BISMARCK — The operator of the Dakota Access Pipeline is planning to nearly double its capacity, to a point where it could transport nearly all of the daily oil production of the nation’s No. 2 producer. The plans include new pumping stations in three states.

Energy Transfer Partners informed North Dakota regulators that it plans to expand the pipeline capacity from more than 500,000 barrels per day to as much as 1.1 million barrels.

An increase “will allow Dakota Access to meet the growing demand from shippers by optimizing and fully utilizing the existing pipeline infrastructure, without the need to install new pipelines, and without the need for shippers to use less safe and efficient means of transportation, such as rail,” Energy Transfer attorney Lawrence Bender said in a letter to the Public Service Commission dated Wednesday.

North Dakota produced 1.39 million barrels of oil per day in April. The record was 1.4 million barrels per day in January.

The $3.8 billion pipeline takes oil from the Bakken through South Dakota and Iowa to a connection with the Energy Transfer Crude Oil Pipeline, which transports oil from Illinois to Nederland, Texas. It began operating in June 2017 after years of construction marred by large-scale and prolonged protests in North Dakota by opponents.

Energy Transfer Partners CEO Kelcy Warren said last August in Bismarck that the company was working to expand the pipeline’s capacity. At the time, it was carrying about 500,000 barrels per day. It’s now carrying 570,000 barrels daily, according to Energy Transfer spokeswoman Lisa Dillinger.

Conditions of the permit through the North Dakota Public Service Commission allow Dakota Access to ship up to 600,000 barrels per day in North Dakota. Companies can expand the capacity of a pipeline by adding additional pumping horsepower or using drag-reducing agents that allow more oil to flow.

Energy Transfer plans to use additional horsepower. Work planned at a tank terminal near Johnsons Corner in northwestern North Dakota will include the addition of two 6,000-horsepower mainline pumps, along with other enhancements including a 300,000 barrel-capacity tank, according to a filing from Charles Frey, vice president of engineering for Energy Transfer subsidiary Dakota Access LLC.

Information provided by the company states Energy Transfer also will “purchase property outright for three new mid-point pumping stations; one each in North Dakota, South Dakota and Illinois.”

The work in North Dakota alone is expected to cost up to $40 million.