By Arathy Somasekhar and Georgina McCartney
HOUSTON (Reuters) – Energy Transfer does not expect the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to shut down the Dakota Access oil pipeline (DAPL) after a long-pending environmental review of a section that runs under a lake and is opposed by nearby Native American tribes, Executive Chair Kelcy Warren said on Tuesday.
A U.S. court in 2022 ordered the federal government to undertake a more intensive environmental impact statement (EIS) of the 1,100-mile (1,800-km) long crude pipeline’s route, the latest saga in a lengthy court battle between the tribes and pipeline operator Energy Transfer.
In a draft statement in September, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers did not select a preferred alternative of five options, including abandoning or rerouting the pipeline around Lake Oahe, a federally protected reservoir.
It will make its selection only after public and agency comments were received and a final version prepared, the draft report said.
“We’re not affected by (the EIS study),” Warren said, while speaking at the Argus Americas Crude Summit in Houston. “They’re certainly not going to shut us down.”
A final EIS will be complete in late 2024, Steven Wolf, a spokesperson for the Army Corps, told Reuters on Tuesday.
The pipeline, which began operating in 2016, can transport up to 750,000 barrels per day, or 60%, of crude from North Dakota, the third largest U.S. oil producing state to Illinois.
An easement was previously granted for the pipeline to cross under Lake Oahe and the pipeline has continued to operate while the review is being carried out.
The tribes have opposed the pipeline, saying they draw water from the lake for various purposes, including drinking, and consider the waters of the Missouri River to be sacred. Their lawyers have said the tribes are worried about a potential oil spill.
(Reporting by Arathy Somasekhar and Georgina McCartney in Houston; Editing by Mark Porter, Marguerita Choy and Stephanie Kelly)