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Published April 22 2012

North Dakota official: Proposed lines shrink Keystone impact

WILLISTON, N.D. — Several pipelines that have been proposed could diminish the importance of the Keystone XL pipeline for North Dakota, a state official said.

Public Service Commissioner Kevin Cramer said the six proposed projects — which would increase the pipeline capacity out of North Dakota's oil fields — make the Keystone XL project less important to North Dakota. One of those pipelines is the Bakken Crude Express Pipeline, proposed earlier this month by Oneok Partners LP, that would transport 200,000 barrels a day from North Dakota to Cushing, Okla.

However, Cramer told the Dickinson Press (http://bit.ly/Jp0YPS ) that the Keystone pipeline is still important for national security and energy security. But while many of the pipelines have somewhat circuitous routes, the Bakken Crude Express would have a direct route, he said.

TransCanada Corp's $7 billion Keystone XL Pipeline would carry Canadian tar sands oil to refineries on the Gulf Coast, and would also would carry 100,000 barrels of crude daily from North Dakota and Montana.

President Barack Obama temporarily halted the Keystone XL project in January. It needs federal approval because it crosses the U.S.-Canadian border. But the company is moving forward on a leg it — from Oklahoma to the Gulf Coast.

Justin Kringstad, director of the North Dakota Pipeline Authority, said the other proposed pipelines are exciting, but the Keystone XL pipeline is unique because it has commitments from shippers.

Kringstad said Oneok and other companies proposing the pipelines out of North Dakota will work on getting shipping commitments in the next six months. After that, projects that move forward will go through the regulatory process, with completion dates ranging from 2013 to 2015, he said.

Ron Ness, president of the North Dakota Petroleum Council, said that Keystone XL project is still important to North Dakota because it allows oil to get to the Gulf Coast.

“Just like anything, you need to be able to get your product to market in order to get a fair price for it,” Ness said. “More access to more markets is key to any commodity.”