It’s been nearly a decade and a half since a major interstate pipeline project was approved in Iowa. Until recently, it’s been easy to forget that there are hundreds of miles of pipelines across the state carrying products ranging from anhydrous ammonia and natural gas to oil. 

In late June, Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners LP, one of the largest pipeline operators in the United States, announced plans for a 1,100-mile pipeline to carry crude oil from the shale oil fields in North Dakota to its hub in Patoka, Ill. The 30-inch diameter pipeline, which would bisect the state from northwest to southeast across 17 counties, would move as much as 320,000 barrels of oil daily. From Illinois, the pipeline would connect with the company’s existing Trunkline Pipeline to a terminal in Nederland, Texas. The company also plans to build a rail terminal in Illinois to access East Coast refineries.

The Dakota Access Pipeline would be the first major pipeline construction project of any kind in Iowa since the Alliance natural gas pipeline was built in 2000, said Rob  Hillesland, an Iowa Utilities Board spokesman. The 2,311-mile Alliance Pipeline, which cuts through northeast Iowa, carries about 1.6 billion standard cubic feet of natural gas daily from western Canada and the Williston Basin to the Chicago market hub. 

Hillesland said the siting and permitting process, landowner rights, agricultural land restoration and eminent domain review by the Iowa Utilities Board would be essentially the same for crude oil as for a natural gas pipeline. 

Energy Transfer Partners entered the crude oil and refined products business two years ago when it acquired Sunoco Inc. and Sunoco Logistics Partners. That same year, it acquired Southern Union Co., a leading diversified natural gas company, which added more than 20,000 miles of pipeline to its portfolio. 

The Bakken Shale oil fields in North Dakota produce more than 1 million barrels of crude oil daily, the bulk of which is currently moved by rail car. At least two other major pipeline companies are also working on projects to move more Bakken crude by pipeline, according to a recent article in The Wall Street Journal. 

North Dakota regulators in June approved a plan by Enbridge Energy Partners LP for the 600-mile Sandpiper Pipeline. Construction began this month on the $2.6 billion project, which will carry 225,000 barrels a day from North Dakota to Clearbrook, Minn., beginning in 2016. And Houston-based Enterprise Product Partners LP hopes to build a 340,000-barrel-a-day pipeline from North Dakota to a storage hub in Oklahoma, although no final decisions have been made by the company’s board.