Pipeline from Bakken would cross South Dakota to get to Illinois

Farm Forum

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) — A Texas company has approved a plan to build a 1,100-mile oil pipeline that would carry crude from the Bakken Oil Field in North Dakota to Patoka, Illinois, about 70 miles east of St. Louis.

According to information on their website, Energy Transfer Partners, L.P. approved the Bakken Pipeline on June 25. In Patoka, the Bakken Pipeline will connect with the company’s existing 30-inch diameter Trunkline Pipeline, which is being converted from natural gas service to crude transportation service. From Patoka, shippers will be able to access multiple markets, including Midwest markets and East Coast markets by rail as well as the Gulf Coast, via Trunkline, to the Nederland, Texas, crude oil terminalling facility of Sunoco Logistics Partners L.P. Additionally, the company will develop a rail terminal facility in Illinois to access East Coast refineries.

Energy Transfer Partners hopes to have the $3.7 billion pipeline in service by late 2016. It would initially transport up to 320,000 barrels of crude per day with the potential to transport as much as 570,000 barrels.

Landowner Don Kreber agreed to let the company survey some of his farmland in O’Brien County, Iowa, but he told the Sioux City Journal he still hasn’t learned many details — even after meeting with a company representative.

“They really aren’t specific. They guy who came here with the papers didn’t have a map,” said Kreber, who would be open to allowing the pipeline on his land if the compensation is fair.

“The route is not final at this time as we are still performing civil surveys and executing environmental studies along the proposed pathway of the pipeline,” Energy Transfer Partners spokeswoman Vicki Granado said.

Environmentalists oppose the project because they worry about the potential for contamination if there were a pipeline spill.

Granado said the proposed pipeline would meet or exceed all state and federal safety standards. “We are very experienced and very proud of the safety record that we have,” she said.

Part of the pipeline is planned to cross South Dakota. In an email response to an inquiry about the proposal, Leah Mohr, Deputy Executive Director of the S.D. Public Utilities Commission wrote, “We are aware of Energy Transfer Partners’ interest in constructing a pipeline through South Dakota. However, they have not applied for a permit from the Public Utilities Commission at this time. The PUC has authority to issue siting permits, as described in the siting guide, for such facilities. Once a company files a siting application such as this, the PUC has one year to fully process the application during which commissioners, staff and any interveners analyze the various application documents and request additional information before commissioners must vote to grant or deny a permit.”

Mohr said at this point no construction has commenced since no permit has been issued. However, the PUC is aware that the company may be surveying land in order to determine the best route to file in their application. That is typical activity prior to a siting application by a company, whether it is for a pipeline or electric transmission line.

“At this point, because they have not filed an application, the best source of information is the company itself,” Mohr wrote. “Anyone with concerns can also contact the company toll free at 844-708-2639.”

South Dakota Public Utilities Commission Chairman Gary Hanson told The Dickinson, N.D., Press in August that officials at the PUC first learned about the project from landowners three to four weeks before being contacted by company officials.

“At first it was very much a stealth pipeline type of a situation for us, because we heard about it from landowners who had been contacted by the company,” Hanson said in The Dickinson Press. “We didn’t hear about it originally from the company itself, which is unusual.”

Farm Forum writer Connie Sieh Groop contributed to this story.