Company: Oil in pipeline under Missouri River reservoir

Work on the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota last year. File

Although its legal challenges have not ended, the backers of the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) reported to a federal district court on Monday that Bakken crude oil began to flow in the $3.68 billion, almost 1,200-mile pipeline.

The Sioux tribes still have an unresolved lawsuit seeking to stop the project.

While the tribes continue to push for global banks helping to finance DAPL to sell their interests in the project - and some have - a Texas-based spokesperson for ETP told NGI's Shale Daily the pipeline for moving Bakken crude oil to East and Gulf Coast market is now a reality.

"The flow of oil under Lake Oahe is a temporary reminder of the pain this pipeline has perpetrated to those that have stood with Standing Rock and the devastation it has wreaked on sacred tribal sites, but hope remains", Ellis said. Many protests have occurred from two American Indian tribes who say it threatens their water supply and cultural sites.

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Sunrise over Lake Oahe in North Dakota.

The tribes in December held up the project by successfully pushing the US government for a full environmental study of the Lake Oahe crossing, which is in southern North Dakota.

The pipeline company has insisted that the state-of-the-art pipeline is safe, while the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has noted that a 30-year-old natural gas pipeline runs along the same route at Lake Oahe. The company on March 20 reported "recent coordinated physical attacks" on the pipeline without offering details.

A crude oil spill in western North Dakota in December is now believed to be about three times bigger than originally estimated, pipeline owner True Companies said, just days before oil started flowing Tuesday in the controversial Dakota Access pipeline, further validating fears of a similar spill in a water source near the Standing Rock Indian Reservation. The perpetrators had reportedly tried to burn holes in some sections of the pipeline where it is above ground, at valve sights.

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