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Army Corps Gives Dakota Access Green Light

Thursday, February 9, 2017

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The Army Corps of Engineers announced Tuesday (Feb. 7) that it would approve an easement that will allow the completion of the Dakota Access Pipeline, a 1,172-mile underground pipeline that will move crude oil from North Dakota to Patoka, Illinois.

DAPL crossing under Lake Oahe
Energy Transfer Partners

Dakota Access (shown in green) will pass 95 to 115 feet below the bottom of Lake Oahe, according to the pipeline's owner.

Dakota Access had been stalled after a December 2016 decision from the Corps that it would not allow the easement, for construction of the 30-inch pipeline underneath the Missouri River at Lake Oahe. The pipeline became a point of contention among environmental and Native American activists, who sought to stop the construction, which they said was too close to the water source for the Standing Rock Reservation.

Trump Administration Stance

The new approval came two weeks after President Donald J. Trump issued a series of memoranda, one of which specifically asked the Corps to expedite a review of the easement ruling. Also included among the memos was an invitation for TransCanada to re-submit its plans for the Keystone XL pipeline, which was rejected in 2015 by the Obama administration. Another memo called for new pipelines being built in the U.S. to be made of American materials as much as possible.

Dakota Access route
Energy Transfer Partners

Dakota Access is a 1,172-mile underground pipeline that will move crude oil from North Dakota to Patoka, Illinois.

Dakota Access is being built by Energy Transfer Partners, a partnership that has a number of subsidiaries and owns Sunoco Logistics, the owner of a number of oil and gas pipelines throughout the U.S.

The Washington Post reports that the pipeline could be operational 60 to 80 days after construction at Lake Oahe begins. Construction can start as soon as the easement is officially granted, which could be this week.

Dakota Access water crossings have been installed via horizontal directional drilling; Energy Transfer Partners says the pipeline will be buried 95 to 115 feet below the blottom of Lake Oahe.

Dakota Delays

Earlier in 2016, Dakota Access hit a temporary delay when Sioux leaders suggested part of the pipeline route crossed through ancient burial lands. Iowa officials halted work in late May, but the state’s archaeologist said that the underground boring would not pose a significant disruption, and construction was back on by late June.

According to Energy Transfer Partners, the pipeline is being constructed of “heavy-walled steel pipe that is nearly 50 percent thicker than required by law,” will be monitored remotely at all times, and will be regularly patrolled and inspected by air to ensure safety.


Tagged categories: Government; North America; Oil and Gas; Pipeline; President Trump; Program/Project Management; Regulations; U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Comment from Andrew Piedl, (2/9/2017, 11:48 AM)

I'm curious to know how a pipeline buried 100 feet below a lake can be 'inspected by air'

Comment from peter gibson, (2/9/2017, 11:54 AM)

The anti pipeline crew don't care about steel thickness. They just oppose it in principle . The tribes don't want the man pushing them around.

Comment from M. Halliwell, (2/9/2017, 12:13 PM)

Andrew, the pipe inspections will be internally (like with most buried pipelines) and visual checks for leaks (what they are calling an inspection) will be done by air. It's a common practice office is a short distance from a corridor and we have daily over-flights. Its been the same on most pipelines I have done work near...overflights to check for leaks/spills and to see if anyone is on the right-of-way who shouldn't be. Peter, I 100% agree....otherwise they would be demanding the re-alignment of the existing pipelines, which are at shallower depth beneath the lake.

Comment from Mark Bowen, (2/10/2017, 2:21 PM)

If they were serious about meeting the demands of both sides, they would install 2 parallel pipelines a significant distance apart, each with a pipeline within a pipeline. The annular space would be filled with a fluid which is recirculated and constantly monitored for leakage. If any leakage is discovered, that pipeline is taken out of service until the interior pipe is fixed. This is not rocket science and has been done in the past where any amount of pollution is unacceptable.

Comment from Luc N. Turenne, (2/14/2017, 5:25 PM)

Mark, well said. That approach is not rocket science. To delay a $3.78 billion project by not doing what can be done is bizarre.

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