Sandpiper pipeline

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Sandpiper pipeline
CountryUnited States
FromBeaver Lodge Station, south of Tioga, North Dakota
Passes throughNorth Dakota, Clearbrook, Minnesota and Wisconsin
ToSuperior, Wisconsin
General information
Typelight crude oil
OwnerEnbridge Energy Partners, L.P.
PartnersWilliston Basin Pipe Line LLC, an indirect subsidiary of Marathon Petroleum Corporation. North Dakota Pipeline Company LLC assets, formerly known as Enbridge Pipelines (North Dakota) LLC
OperatorEnbridge Energy Partners
ExpectedJanuary 2017
Technical information
Length616 mi (991 km)
Maximum discharge0.25 million barrels per day (~1.2×10^7 t/a)
Diameter24 to 30 in (610 to 762 mm)
Pumping stationsnew pump station and tanks in Clearbrook

The Sandpiper pipeline is a 616-mile-long (991 km) underground oil pipeline project in the United States. It would carry light crude oil from the Bakken oil fields in Northwest North Dakota, through Minnesota, to end in Superior, Wisconsin. Enbridge Energy Partners, and Williston Basin Pipe Line LLC, an indirect subsidiary of Marathon Petroleum Corporation have been planning the project since 2013. In 2015 Enbridge estimated the pipeline will cost about $2.6 billion.


The Sanpiper pipeline project was made public by the media in 2013, and informational hearings for landowners took place in three North Dakota towns during March 2014. The North Dakota Public Service Commission approved the pipeline in June 2014.[1] The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission unanimously approved the Sandpiper pipeline, but its decision was overturned in September 2015.[2]

In September 2016, Enbridge Energy Partners announced that due to "extensive and unprecedented [regulatory] delays [which] have plagued the Sandpiper pipeline," they were withdrawing their state application and asking for an end to regulatory proceedings, including work on an environmental-impact statement. An Enbridge spokesperson said that the pipeline may be reconsidered once the oil market rebounds but it was then "outside the company’s current five-year planning horizon".[3]


In 2015, Enbridge stated that "The Sandpiper Pipeline serves the oil conducting needs of North Dakota residents, which constitutes a public benefit". Per Enbridge, the Sandpiper pipeline represents a "public use", a "statutorily defined public utility.", and its route was chosen with the "greatest public benefit and the least private injury." and "As long as the public benefit can be demonstrated, it is immaterial that private interests are also served." [4]

Per Enbridge, the pipeline is necessary "to meet demand for Bakken oil".[5] The corporation projects economic benefits of $69 million in property tax revenue for the 3 states, and 3000 construction jobs for workers in Minnesota and North Dakota.[6]


The pipeline would enter Minnesota just south of Grand Forks, North Dakota, east to Clearbrook Enbridge's terminal. and then south toward Park Rapids along an existing crude oil corridor. Afterwards, the pipeline would run in a transmission line corridor to Superior, Wisconsin.[5]

The route passes through 28 rivers, including the Mississippi River headwaters, and lakes and wetlands that can’t be reached by nearby roads if a spill should occur.[3]

North Dakota portion[edit]

Informational hearings for landowners took place in three North Dakota towns during March 2014. The North Dakota Public Service Commission approved the pipeline on 25 June 2014.[1]

Enbridge sued a couple in Grand Forks in 2014, because they refused to give Enbridge an easement and right-of-way. the couple quoted NDPL's abuse of eminent domain, continued reliance on fossil fuels their effect on the environment and possibility for spills as arguments. In August 2015 the couple agreed on an easement, and forfeited compensation, in order to file an appeal to the North Dakota Supreme Court.[7]

Minnesota portion[edit]

In November 2013, Enbridge applied at the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (MPUC). The MPUC unanimously approved the project, allowing to do an environmental review later. In September 2015, the {Minnesota Court of Appeals overruled the PUC decision as a violation of state law.[2]

In a November 2014 Star Tribune commentary a Polk County commissioner, a Clearwater County commissioner and a Red Lake County commissioner opined, that the Sandpiper pipeline was the "best choice for the state...better than trucks or rail and also offer[ing] economic benefits."[8]

In February 2015, the White Earth Indian Reservation, represented by Winona LaDuke stated that the pipeline would cross a portion of its land, which Enbridge disputes. La Duke has been against the pipeline because it would violate Indian sovereignty and for environmental reasons.[6]

The President of North America's Building Trades Unions came out in a December 2015 commentary criticizing the Minnesota Court of Appeals decision, accused the court was "robbing hard-working Minnesotans of jobs" which would provide workers with a path to middle class.[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Case #: PU-13-848 North Dakota Public Service Commission, retrieved 23 December 2015
  2. ^ a b c Sean McGarvey Labor's view: Sandpiper pipeline promises a bright future, Duluth News Tribune10 December 2015, retrieved 23 December 2015
  3. ^ a b Hughlett, Mike (September 2, 2016). "Enbridge Energy pulling plug on Sandpiper pipeline". Star Tribune. Retrieved 31 October 2016.
  4. ^ John Hageman County landowner plans to appeal pipeline decision. Grand Fork Herald, 9 August 2015, retrieved 23 December 2015
  5. ^ a b Greg Vandegrift Sandpiper oil pipeline divides Minnesota Kare11, TEGNA, 10 February 2015
  6. ^ a b Justin Glawe The Pipeline Fight Pitting Native Americans Against Big Oil The Daily Beast, 2 February 2015, retrieved 23 December 2015
  7. ^ John Hageman Jury trial avoided in Grand Forks Sandpiper Pipeline case. Grand Forks Herald 11 August 2015
  8. ^ Warren Strandell, Duane Hayes and John Lerohl Sandpiper pipeline is best choice for state Star Tribune, November 23, 2014, retrieved 23 December 2015