Dakota Access pipeline now in service

Dakota Access pipeline now in service
© Greg Nash

The controversial Dakota Access pipeline has started carrying oil between North Dakota and Illinois, its owner said Thursday.

The successful completion of construction and testing opens up a new route for up to 570,000 barrels of oil daily to be carried from major drilling areas in the Bakken oil formation to a major pipeline hub, where it can be carried to refiners or exporters on the Gulf Coast.

At 1,172 miles long and 30 inches in diameter, Dakota Access cost $3.8 billion to build, Energy Transfer Partners said. Together with the Illinois-to-Texas Energy Transfer Crude Oil Pipeline, it has 520,000 barrels per day of commitments from shippers, leaving room for another 50,000 barrels.

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Despite the start of service, American Indian tribes and their allies are still working in court to shut the project down, saying the federal government didn’t conduct the proper environmental reviews before permitting construction under Lake Oahe in North Dakota.

The project caught international attention in the latter half of 2016 due to large protests against it by American Indian and environmental activists at a spot near the Standing Rock Sioux reservation and the North Dakota lake.

Opponents said the pipeline’s route under Lake Oahe near the reservation would threaten the tribe’s drinking water, and the oil it carries would be destructive to the climate.

Energy Transfer, the oil industry, congressional Republicans and others countered that the project had been thoroughly studied and reviewed, and slammed the Obama administration for its inaction.

Former President Obama delayed the project in December by refusing to grant the Army Corps of Engineers an easement for the lake. But President Trump approved the easement weeks after taking office, spurring Energy Transfer to quickly resume construction.