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Lake Sakakawea, Sacagawea pipeline
A view of Lake Sakakawea. Photo: NDDOT via Flickr.

Bakken oil pipeline under Lake Sakakawea approved

On Monday the North Dakota Public Service Commission voted in unanimous support of a crude oil pipeline which will run beneath Lake Sakakawea, reports the Forum News Service (FNS).

The $105 million pipeline project, owned by Hess Corp., will convert an existing 8-inch gas pipeline to transfer crude oil produced in the Bakken. The section of pipeline runs for 2.4 miles and was buried six feet beneath the lake bottom in 1992.

The segment will connect with a 10-mile portion of new pipeline on the south side of the lake and with a 12.8-mile portion on the north side, which will transfer oil to the Ramberg Truck Facility near Tioga, North Dakota. PSC Chairwoman Julie Fedorchak said the new 12-inch pipeline sections will be buried at least five feet underground. The span of the completed system will have the capacity to transfer up to 76,000 barrels of oil per day.

As reported by the FNS, Hess will monitor the pipeline 24/7 from a control room in Tioga which will track the system’s pressure, flow and temperature. Operators of the control room will have the ability to activate emergency shutdown valves in various sections of the pipeline, as well as on both sides of the lake. According to a risk assessment performed by Hess, the pipeline under the lake has a likelihood of leaking once every 190 years. Additionally, in the event of a leak, the impact on water quality, plants and animals would be minimal.

Fedorchak told the FNS, “The company is taking a proactive step to increase the testing of that line, recognizing the importance of that line to safe operations of their system and to the safety of the water resources in Lake Sakakawea.” Other precautions in place include inline “smart pig” inspections and pressure tests prior to coming online as well as tests performed every 42 months, more frequent than what is mandated by federal regulators.

Also on Monday, the commission approved a permit for Hess to build a natural gas liquids pipeline parallel to the other project. Utilizing new and existing lines, the project has an estimated cost of $37 million and will have a carrying capacity of 30,000 barrels per day. To read the original article, click here.


  1. Keep on Keepin on !! ND is # 2

  2. Idk much about it. But the existing pipe is kinda getting old don’t yA think ?

  3. First off, I work in the oilfield. Second off, this scares the heck out of me. There are too many communities that rely on sakakawea for drinking water, and too much money is made on that lake in recreational dollars. They need to find a different route for the pipeline.

  4. There goes the neighborhood

  5. Seems like they should err on the side if caution especially if they are using Chinese steel.

  6. Bad decisions made by stupid people.

  7. Heck yes bring it on if it wasn’t safe the EPA wouldnt approve it we have to get the oil and gas south somehow

  8. I’m not against a oil pipeline to assist in the Bakken, but not in any way, shape or form shall it be close to the big lake.

  9. What could possibly go wrong?

  10. Boring job. Control room operators fall asleep all the time. Hire Homer Simpson to operate that. Great idea… Find a pendelum bird that just hits the “Y” key.

  11. My husband works in the Bakken. I am all for a pipeline. It is needed. I do not agree with it going under a major water source. There is so much uninhabited land to run it across. I am def not a tree hugger, but even I know this is a risky plan.

  12. Better hurry. Winter is a month away.

  13. You don’t want these guys near your water.

  14. The water off the coast of Cali will eventually wash the oil into the massive ocean. Where will your lake oil go.

  15. Huge bad Idea been here a year and a half and know of 3 pipeline failures. Residents of the lake and ND better fight this!

  16. Jayden Shannan you guys are locals you really should be concerned

  17. Terrible idea any project next to water shouldn’t even be planned up!!!
    When it fails, the only thing we will get is a “Sorry we’ll try harder next time”

  18. I hate to burst everyone’s bubble, but there is already more than one crude pipeline running underneath the lake, this is nothing new.

  19. Too risky go another route

    • Just curious, what other route do you propose? You either go under the lake or a river when going from north to south and vice versa in the Bakken.

    • I’d prefer river than the lake which is used as the water supply for the area. We have a pipeline running through the river at our ranch haven’t had a break since it was built in the 70s. I’m just saying when people’s sole water supply is that lake I’m talking majority of people not the ones with water wells it seems that you wouldn’t compromise that.

    • The lake and the river are the same thing – the Missouri River runs into Lake Sakakawea. And there are multiple pipelines already running under it…just curious as to your opinion.

    • They can’t go downstream of the river? There are pipelines running under the lake already? If so then this doesn’t matter go under the lake.

    • Downstream of Lake Sakakawea, the Missouri River continues and eventually flows into the Mississippi River – it’s the longest river in North America. And yes, multiple pipelines. That’s why I find the comments on here amusing.

    • Well then it doesn’t matter from the article and comments it made it seem like this was some pristine lake.

  20. I’m a pipeliner… Bring it!

  21. Whoa! That’s gunna be an undertaking!

  22. If you don’t live in North Dakota shut your pie hole. .no one asked you

    • If you aren’t a native of ND and only came in the last few years chasing oil field money, shut your pie hole. No one asked you. FYI the lake (Missouri River) is the primary water source for metro areas that have more ppl than the entire state of ND, so I think it’s reasonable to hear their opinions also.

  23. The only consolation is that HESS is doing it.

  24. Who cares they will bore 30 ft under the lake bottom

  25. I’m all for the pipeline but I would rather see it cross new town bridge .this is a bad idea.There are already pipes underneath the lake…the state must be getting greedier. Very dumb.

  26. Anybody consider the fact that this is an opening for more opportunities of work nor JOB??

  27. Pipeline needed. But not another one under the lake bad plan. Above ground!

  28. Why would you go under it? Go around the water…common sense.

  29. There are thousands of pipelines all over the world that are bored under water that people depend on. Have been for a very long time. Leaks are rare, it’s not common for them to leak, tho it does happen. But with technologies these days oil companies can run pigs, (not an actual oink oink pig) for you animal lovers. But a smart pig that runs thru the line and tells you the integrity of the pipe before any problems occur. So quit crying

    • PIG – pipeline inspection gauge

    • They’re so rare that we’ve had two pipeline leaks on the Yellowstone in the past few years. Glendive and Billings.

    • Leaks may be considered “rare” by those interested in money more than our lives; yet this is not worth the risk to our children’s water

    • And no problems after the two on the yellowstone they cant find any oil to say its a problem

    • Ok well glendive was bad. That falls back on the oil company for not keeping up on maintenance. I’m saying pipelines that break are from decades ago. That have no records showing exactly where they are, how deep, coating specs, metal thickness. Those things couldn’t be recorded an kept thru decades of time. So we have no records of them. These days pipe that goes in the ground have more records an paperwork and certifications for different circumstances. For example, boring under water. Oil companies make sure there using the right coating and the right metal for whatever there putting there pipe thru. Pipelines are still safer then railroads that is a fact.

  30. Cha ching, where the 570’s at?

  31. Just what need another broken pipeline,come on governor do something about it

  32. Not an oil guy, not an enviro hippy, just a rational engineer and this screams bad idea.

    Also, no clue how this ended up on my news feed. Bizarre.

  33. Better not affect walleye fishing in my lifetime. Haha , maybe I should be a politician.

  34. Future of that lake is doomed

  35. This is a bad idea for a multitude of reasons!

  36. Did anyone actually read the article? They’re converting/upgrading an existing pipeline in place since 1992. It will be monitored 24/7 , tested more often than federal law requires, and has several shut off points . This is actually good news from an environmental standpoint.

  37. It will be fine doesn’t means hit running under the lake any one who thinks other wise don’t know anything and don’t know how it’s done learn a thing or 2 before being ignorant I’m done

  38. They are just looking at destroying North Dakota

  39. I thought they had plans to build one on either side that got denied. They better do there stuff right so it doesn’t leak in 20 years.

  40. If there’s an oil company out there that will do it right the first time, Hess is that company!

  41. This is a VERY bad idea. He had 2 breaks in the Yellowstone River because of pipeline work there. It’s an unnecessary risk.

  42. Hell, they should drill the center of that lake.

  43. Converting a 23 tear old gas line to carry crude oil has disaster written all over it.. I hear all these promises that the companies are going to “Do it right ” BS, If they were going to do i right they would design and build new line. Letting them cut corners at the expense of our Natural resources.

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