Energy Transfer Expects Dakota Access Pipeline Expansion Operational by Late 2021

NEW YORK (Reuters) — Energy Transfer expects to have expanded capacity available on its embattled Dakota Access crude oil pipeline by the third quarter of next year, it said on Tuesday in a presentation to investors. 

A construction site along the Dakota Access pipeline. Photo: Energy Transfer

The Dallas-based pipeline operator plans to roughly double the amount of crude oil that can flow through the 570,000-barrel-per-day Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). The pipeline is currently embroiled in a federal court fight over its environmental impact and permits, as it awaits state approval for the expansion.

"Expect additional capacity to service commitments received through recent open seasons to be in-service in the third quarter of 2021," the company said in a slide presentation posted on its website.

Energy Transfer is waiting for a decision by Illinois regulators on whether the capacity expansion of the crude oil pipeline from North Dakota’s Bakken region can move ahead.

The pipeline, however, could be halted before a vote takes place. The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia in May ordered a full Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) be completed on the line. Two months later, the court determined the pipeline had violated environmental law and vacated its permit to operate on federal land. 

The company has appealed the District Court’s decision. 

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers last week said it had begun the roughly year-long process of completing an Environmental Impact Statement on the pipeline. 

In the meantime, a federal judge could issue an injunction against the pipeline, forcing it to be drained as a precaution against leaks into South Dakota’s Lake Oahe as the review is carried out. 

The reservoir is a critical source of drinking water for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, which opposes the pipeline.

Dakota Access and Army Corps said they are in discussions with the tribes and said their appeal “will be fully briefed by September 30, with oral argument to be scheduled on an expedited basis.”

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