Energy Transfer Partners told the Oil Patch Hotline there remains strong support from North Dakota oil producers to continue moving crude oil on the Dakota Access Pipeline.

“Our successful open season proved there is long-term interest from our shippers,” said company spokesman Lisa Coleman. The company does not discuss specific contracts, she added.

Her response came after unconfirmed press reports that Energy Transfer had imposed force majeure on operators to prevent them from backing out of their support for the Dakota Access expansion. The news reports said that action, unconfirmed by Energy Transfer, was taken to prevent operators from walking away from expansion.

The proposed expansion would increase the current capacity of the crude oil pipeline from 570,000 barrels to 1 million BOPD. The company has secured approval from various state agencies to expand which includes a new pump station at Linton, ND.

The current Williston Basin output including production from Montana and South Dakota as of March was 1,486,143 BOPD.

The ND Pipeline Authority said outbound movement by rail had increased to 21% while pipeline capacity was listed at 69%. In addition to Dakota Access, crude oil also moves out of state on the Belle Fourche and Butte crude oil pipelines running south  through Wyoming.

“The Bakken is still producing over 1 million barrels of oil per day,” Coleman said. “The U.S. Energy Information Agency expects global oil demand to return almost to 2019 levels by the end of 2020, with a similar rise in production, and North Dakota and its in-state producers predict a corresponding local recovery.”

The Dakota Access pipeline runs 1,172 miles from Stanley, ND and Pakota, IL.

“It has and continues to provide the most cost efficient means of moving Bakken crude oil directly and safely to market which boosts drilling economics and supports jobs,” Coleman said.