The Bakken Shale formation in North Dakota, Montana and Canada is one of the most productive oil regions in North America today, to the point where oil rigs are producing more crude oil than they can ship at any one time. However, that may soon change.
According to a recent article on Oil Price, plans are being put in place for a 1,100 mile pipeline that would transport oil from North Dakota to Pakota, Illinois. The Texas-based oil company responsible, Energy Transfer Partners, announced that the proposed pipeline would be able to transport 320,000 barrels per day.
The project, read a recent press release, "not only supports the continued growth and production on the Bakken area, but does so in a cost effective and environmentally responsible manner by reducing the current utilization of rail and truck transportation as the predominant alternative to moving Bakken crude oil volumes to major U.S. markets."
It is indeed true that rail transport can be problematic for the oil industry. Though it is a faster and more flexible means of transportation when compared to pipelines, derailments have been known to cause deadly explosions, such as the incident that occurred in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec last summer that killed more than 40 people. Pipelines are able to avoid many of these risks by traveling through sparsely-populated areas.
This is not to say, however, that pipelines are completely without risk. Leaks have been known to happen, and when they occur in the middle of nowhere it can be sometime before the problem is treated. Stakeholders of this project must work closely with environmental consultants to ensure that the potential for these incidents is minimized, and that any spills are thoroughly remediated.