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Bakken Shale Crude to be Rerouted if DAPL Closes

Bakken Shale crude oil volumes would ship to the east, west, and even north into Canada. According to industry sources, it was sent back into the US again as producers and pipeline operators target alternatives routes if the Dakota Access Pipeline is shuttered temporarily. The federal court could decide soon whether the Bakken Shale’s main crude artery needs to be closed.

The dispersing volumes from the four-year-old, 570,000 b/d pipeline to other existing pipelines and widening Bakken Shale crude price discounts will be decided. If the Energy Transfer-operated pipeline is shut, drastic measures will not be required as long as the shutdown is temporary. The US Army Corps of Engineers’ Court ordered Environmental Impact Statement study to put the DAPL back into legal standing.

Bakken crude production and activity have already diminished due to the pandemic situation. On the other side, the DAPL uncertainty is also another issue. The temporary closure would keep the projected Bakken Shale production growth from occurring, but it would not substantially reduce volumes. Colton Bean, the midstream analyst for Tudor, Pickering, Holt & Co, said, “The industry had a lot of time to consider alternate routes. Is it going to be a disaster scenario? No. It’s more of a cap on growth than a big impact on existing production.”

With the potential loss of the DAPL capacity, analysts expect at least 200,000 b/d to move to exist pipeline alternatives. Some of them predict that crude-by-rail volumes could even grow by a minimum of 300,000 b/d with some of the modest optimization and expansion work.

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