Enbridge proposes another pipeline to SuperiorEnbridge Energy is proposing a new pipeline that would transport Bakken crude from northwest North Dakota to Superior.
By: Amy Dalrymple, Duluth News Tribune
MINOT, N.D. — Enbridge Energy is proposing a new pipeline that would transport Bakken crude from northwest North Dakota to Superior.
The Sandpiper Pipeline being proposed by the company’s Enbridge Pipelines subsidiary is in the early planning stages. It could transport about 225,000 barrels per day, said Katie Haarsager, community relations adviser for Enbridge.
If it’s approved, the earliest it could go into service is late 2015 or early 2016.
“It’s still pretty high-level in the development stage,” Haarsager said.
The exact route for the 500-plus-mile pipeline is still being determined, but it would run from near Tioga in northwestern North Dakota to Clearbrook, Minn., to the main Enbridge terminal in Superior.
Where possible, the pipeline would run parallel to Enbridge’s existing line, said Bob Steede, general manager of Enbridge Pipelines North Dakota.
“The advantage of getting it to Superior is that it gets it onto the Enbridge mainline system, which can go to any of Enbridge’s delivery points in the United States,” Steede said, thus opening new markets for the oil. “Getting it to the main Enbridge system gets that combination of market opportunity at a competitive price.”
Enbridge’s current capacity in North Dakota is 275,000 barrels per day. By the first quarter of 2013, it’s expected to expand to 425,000 barrels per day with the completion of the Bakken Expansion Program.
The Sandpiper Pipeline would be Enbridge’s largest project in North Dakota, but its size is not uncommon when compared to other Enbridge projects nationwide, Steede said.
Enbridge officials are working with shippers to see what interest there is in the project, Haarsager said. The next step will be to work with regulatory agencies in North Dakota, Minnesota and Wisconsin.
Some North Dakota landowners are getting weary after dealing with multiple pipeline companies. Farmer Blaine Jorgenson, who lives near Williston, can see trenches where pipelines have settled as he scans his fields. Jorgenson has four gathering lines on his property and additional pipelines on farmland he rents. Cases of pipeline companies that didn’t follow through on their promises or promptly repair areas that caved in have left Jorgenson reluctant to negotiate future easements.
But industry officials say building more pipelines is the only way to get trucks off the road.
“Pipelines are the safest, most efficient way of moving those products around the region and around the U.S.,” said Justin Kringstad, director of the North Dakota Pipeline Authority.
In North Dakota, 74 percent of crude oil is gathered by truck and 26 percent gathered by pipeline, Kringstad said.
“That’s not sustainable,” said Lynn Helms, director of the Department of Mineral Resources. “That’s not a paradigm that we can live with long-term.”
But the process to obtain easements for pipeline projects is taking longer and becoming more expensive, Helms said.
Some companies are starting to talk about developing corridors of pipelines so landowners deal with one easement, one payment and one negotiation at the coffee table, Helms said.
Daryl Dukart, a rancher and county commissioner in North Dakota’s Dunn County, north of Dickinson, said he notices more coordination now with pipeline projects, whereas two years ago the pipelines seemed to be going “every direction but up and down.”
From a landowner’s perspective, a pipeline that is properly installed takes about five to seven years to heal, and a poorly installed pipeline can take 10 to 15 years or even longer, Dukart said.
Dukart, who has four pipelines on his land, said all have been installed according to his wishes.
The price to obtain an easement used to be about $25 per rod, or 16½ feet, but now the price can be as high as $135 per rod, Dukart said.
Energy-related pipelines aren’t the only projects under way in western North Dakota. The Western Area Water Supply Project has installed about 150 miles of transmission line so far to bring quality drinking water to underserved areas.
Amy Dalrymple is a Forum Communications Co. reporter stationed in the Oil Patch. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.