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State approves oil pipeline to run under Lake Sakakawea

BISMARCK - The North Dakota Public Service Commission approved Tuesday a crude oil pipeline that will cross Lake Sakakawea. Commissioners, who supported the project unanimously, said Sacagawea Pipeline Co. is taking several steps to minimize pote...

BISMARCK – The North Dakota Public Service Commission approved Tuesday a crude oil pipeline that will cross Lake Sakakawea.

Commissioners, who supported the project unanimously, said Sacagawea Pipeline Co. is taking several steps to minimize potential impacts to the lake, including boring at least 100 feet under the lakebed.

The 70-mile pipeline will transport oil from south of Keene in McKenzie County to a rail terminal near Palermo in Mountrail County. The $125 million project will travel beneath the lakebed of Lake Sakakawea for 7,000 feet, which requires boring underground for 11,000 feet – more than two miles.

Commission Chairwoman Julie Fedorchak said the company has hired one of the top contractors in the country to do the underground boring

At the commission’s request, the company added an extra valve on the east side of the lake that can be closed in the event of an emergency to reduce the amount of oil that could potentially spill into the lake.

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In addition, the pipeline will be continuously monitored from a control center in Oklahoma and the operator will have personnel and equipment stationed nearby for emergency spill response.

“They have taken some really important measures to mitigate some of the most significant potential impacts,” Fedorchak said.

The pipeline will transport 140,000 barrels of crude oil per day to the rail terminal owned by Phillips 66.

“This is an important piece of key infrastructure in an area of the state that has a lot of truck traffic due to oil and gas development,” Fedorchak said.

Sacagawea Pipeline Co. is a joint venture with Paradigm Energy Partners, which will build the pipeline, Phillips 66, which will operate the pipeline and the rail terminal, and Greywolf Midstream, an entity owned by Three Affiliated Tribes that’s an investor in the project.

The Three Affiliated Tribes consented to an easement for the portion of the project that crosses tribal land, Fedorchak said.

The commission is considering another proposal from Sacagawea Pipeline Co. for an eight-mile pipeline that would transport oil from the Palermo rail terminal to the Enbridge oil terminal in Stanley. A public hearing is set for 10 a.m. Jan. 12 in Stanley for that proposal.

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