Dakota Access Pipeline construction begins

Farm Forum

Work on the Dakota Access Pipeline started this week in northeast South Dakota, other parts of the state and beyond.

Construction began on May 16 on the $3.8 billion, 1,172-mile pipeline, said Dakota Access representative Lisa Dillinger. Work is underway in North Dakota, South Dakota and Illinois, she said. The pipeline will also cut through Iowa.

The line will move crude oil from North Dakota’s Bakken region through 274 miles of South Dakota, including 136 miles in Campbell, McPherson, Edmunds, Faulk and Spink counties.

Dillinger would not specify where work had been started.

However, South Dakota Public Utilities Commission Chairman Chris Nelson said work has started on at least the northernmost parts of two of three South Dakota spreads. For construction purposes, pipeline routes are typically divided into manageable lengths referred to as spreads.

“As the company has indicated, South Dakota will be in three different spreads,” Nelson said.

The first spread begins in North Dakota and runs into Faulk County. Work had not started on that spread yet, at least not in South Dakota, he said.

The second begins in Faulk County and runs into southern Lake County. The third extends the pipeline into Iowa, Nelson said. Work has started on those two spreads, he said.

“That’s all the information we’ve gotten this week,” he said. “We haven’t heard of any issues that they’ve run into, so as far as we know, the company is full steam ahead.”

Spink County landowner Perry Schmidt recognized a few pipeline crews in his area. They appeared to be locating utility lines and preparing roadways for construction, he said.

He was appreciative of newly placed stakes that will ensure farmers “aren’t wasting money planting seed,” he said.

The stakes are placed at the edges of areas that farmers can’t plant.

Surveying to locate and mark the utility lines and staking the boundaries of the pipeline are the very beginning stages of construction.

By the end of construction, the pipeline will be covered by a minimum of 36 inches of soil — more if it crosses under roads, lakes or streams. In agricultural land, the pipe will be buried in a minimum of 48 inches, according to a pipeline fact sheet.

Dakota Access previously said up to 4,000 construction workers will be employed in each state.

“The number of workers you’ll see in any given county will continually fluctuate based on the day’s work,” Dillinger said.

She estimated between 200 and 600 in any given area, depending on its mileage and construction plan.

Construction will be done in different areas simultaneously, Dillinger said.

Work had not yet started in Campbell County on May 19, according to Emergency Management Director Lawrence Goehring. But Campbell County first responders and law enforcement officials were trained on May 17 by a pipeline safety officer, who told Goehring work would start at the river northeast of Linton, N.D., yet this week.

“They got all the campgrounds and every possible place filled and all kinds of equipment up there,” he said.

Dakota Access secured all of the necessary easements in the Dakotas earlier this month. According to The Associated Press, all landowners voluntarily gave permission for the pipeline to cross their land without a legal fight. The easements bind the company by contract to pay landowners an undisclosed amount for three years. The money serves as compensation for not being able to farm the land.

Throughout the four states, direct easement payments will total nearly $189 million, according to a Dakota Access fact sheet.

Officials also expect pipeline construction to generate an estimated state sales tax revenue of $38.5 million, Dillinger said.

“The pipeline will translate into millions in state and local revenues during the construction phase, including sales and income tax payments, local property tax payments and the use of local goods and services,” she said.

Following the completion of construction, the project will make an annual property tax payment that, in South Dakota, is estimated to be $13.5 million in 2017, according to a Dakota Access fact sheet.

Dakota Access said in a filing last week that it had to start laying pipe this week in order to finish before winter and avoid disturbing farmland for a second growing season.

“I’m glad it’s getting started so they can get done on time,” Schmidt said.

The original plan of 1,168 miles of pipe was extended slightly because of “slight tweaks to the route,” according to Dillinger.

Officials expect the pipeline to be in service by the end of the year.

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Dakota Access in South Dakota by the numbers

• Total estimated project cost: $820 million

• Estimated sales tax revenue to be generated during construction: $38.5 million

• Estimated property tax revenue during the first year in service: $13.5 million

• Estimated local sales tax revenue to be generated during construction: $2.9 million

• Anticipated number of construction jobs created: 4,000

• Number of miles of pipe: 274

• Number of pump stations: 1, in Spink County

Source: Dakota Access