The Dakota Access pipeline is ready to start shipping crude oil from North Dakota’s Bakken play south to Illinois, project operator Energy Transfer Partners said in a regulatory filing yesterday. The company said that it had put crude in a reservoir under the Missouri River, and that full-scale flow will begin soon. The reservoir is in the section of the pipeline under Lake Oahe that sparked protests from local Native American tribes and environmentalists.
The news comes a couple of days after media reported that the FBI is investigating a case of vandalism of the pipeline. According to the reports, the Dakota Access was vandalized at two locations in Sioux County, Iowa. The perpetrators had reportedly tried to burn holes in some sections of the pipeline where it is above ground, at valve sights. Energy Transfer Partners said that attacks have been carried out in South Dakota, too, which was later confirmed by local authorities.
More such acts are a possibility since the protesters failed to put a stop to the pipeline despite the protests, which lasted for months, and despite challenging the project in court. Arguments such as the pipeline would threaten local communities’ drinking water and affect religious practices by desecrating holy grounds and, again, the lake’s water, failed to convince judges. Related: Pro-Extension Voices In OPEC Become Louder
Environmental reviews concluded that the pipeline will be safe, while Energy Transfer Partners itself noted that there are already several pipelines passing through Lake Oahe, all of them older and potentially more dangerous. After President Trump signed an executive order for the project to continue, the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers last month granted the last permit that Energy Transfer needed to proceed with the contested section of the pipeline.
Yet opponents are not giving up. The Standing Rock and Cheyenne River Sioux tribes and their supporters are still determined to continue the legal battle against the Dakota Access project.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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