BISMARCK, N.D. – Despite delays caused by protesters, the North Dakota leg of the four-state Dakota Access Pipeline was 87 percent complete at the end of September, up from 68 percent in August, according to the monthly construction report filed with the state Public Service Commission late Wednesday, Oct. 5.
Dakota Access LLC reported that clearing and grading, pipe stringing and engineering and bending were 96 percent complete, while welding was 95 percent complete and coating and ditching were 94 percent finished. Lowering in of the pipe and backfilling were 93 percent complete, and tie-ins were 76 percent complete.
Road bores were 80 percent complete and directional drills were 79 percent complete.
The most work remained on testing, which was 52 percent complete, and cleanup, at 53 percent.
Dakota Access says the 1,172-mile pipeline would begin near Stanley and transport 470,000 barrels of oil per day to a hub in Patoka, Ill., with the ability to expand to accommodate 570,000 barrels of Bakken crude each day.
Construction began May 16 on the 346-mile, $1.4 billion North Dakota leg, which is being built simultaneously in three sections by two different contractors. Precision Pipeline LLC is building the segments from Stanley to Watford City and from Watford City to Lake Oahe, while Michels Corp. is constructing the pipeline from Lake Oahe to the state line, the report said.
Dakota Access, a subsidiary of Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners, reported six recordable injuries during September.
Protests that began almost two months ago have delayed construction numerous times, with pipeline opponents attaching themselves to machinery. So far, authorities have arrested 96 protesters on various charges, including trespassing and felony reckless endangerment. Construction was stopped at five sites Wednesday near St. Anthony in Morton County after a caravan of protesters showed up in the area, authorities said.
A federal appeals court has ordered Dakota Access to stop construction within 20 miles of the Missouri River at Lake Oahe to give the court more time to consider the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s request to halt construction while the tribe’s legal challenge to permits issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plays out. A three-judge appeals court panel in Washington, D.C., heard arguments on the request Wednesday but did not issue a ruling.
The Corps also is withholding an easement for the lake crossing as it determines whether it needs to reconsider any of its previous decisions.
An attorney for the pipeline company said at Wednesday's hearing that if the court allowed it, the company would continue building up to the lake's edge even before the easement decision, because each extra month of delay will cost the company more than $80 million, Reuters reported. The pipeline is slated to be in service by the end of the year, but it’s unclear how the delays at Lake Oahe will affect that schedule.
“Mechanical completion date is unknown,” the construction report states.