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DAPL gauging interest in expanding oil shipments

File photo of the Dakota Access Pipeline under construction in August 2016. Forum News Service

BISMARCK — The company that built the Dakota Access Pipeline is gauging the oil industry's interest in shipping additional oil from the Bakken to the Gulf Coast.

Energy Transfer Partners recently announced it is soliciting commitments from the industry to expand the capacity of the four-state Dakota Access Pipeline and the Energy Transfer Crude Oil Pipeline, which transports oil from Illinois to Nederland, Texas.

In June, Energy Transfer Partners said in a news release the Dakota Access Pipeline from North Dakota to Illinois had a capacity of 520,000 barrels per day and could be expanded up to 570,000 barrels per day.

The announcement about a potential expansion did not specify a capacity figure. A news release said the pipeline companies anticipate that incremental capacity on the two pipelines, known as the Bakken Pipeline System, will be determined based on commitments from shippers.

Justin Kringstad, director of the North Dakota Pipeline Authority, estimates Dakota Access was 86 percent full at the end of 2017.

North Dakota produced about 1.18 million barrels of oil per day in December, the most recent figure available. Production is soon expected to exceed the state's record of more than 1.2 million barrels a day and continue growing.

Kringstad projects that oil production could exceed the state's pipeline capacity in 12 to 18 months.

"I would say there's going to be strong interest in additional transportation out of the region," he said.

Companies can expand the capacity of a pipeline by adding additional pumping horsepower or using drag-reducing agents that allow more oil to flow, Kringstad said.

Dakota Access already has permission from the North Dakota Public Service Commission to ship up to 600,000 barrels of oil per day from the core of the Bakken in McKenzie County to the South Dakota border, according to conditions of the pipeline permit.

A spokeswoman for Energy Transfer Partners did not return an email seeking comment Monday.