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ETP could get final easement for Dakota Access soon, analysts say

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ETP could get final easement for Dakota Access soon, analysts say

Analysts believe Energy Transfer Partners LP could receive the missing easement for construction of the controversial Dakota Access pipeline in a matter of days.

Their outlook rides on recent statements from Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., and Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., who both issued statements on Jan. 31 saying they've heard the Army Corps has been directed to issue the easement that will permit Dakota Access to bury the pipeline under Lake Oahe.

"The Acting Secretary of the Army Robert Speer informed us that he has directed the Army Corps of Engineers to proceed with the easement needed to complete the Dakota Access Pipeline," Hoeven said. "This will enable the company to complete the project."

Height Securities analysts said in a Feb. 1 note that they expect the easement this week, with construction beginning soon after. An FBR analyst note also predicted that the final easement could be issued within days, although responses to an easement may impact the project's timing.

"The decision could compound ongoing legal intervention from both sides, as DAPL opponents have signaled their intent to challenge any DAPL rulings from President Trump's executive memorandum," the Feb. 1 FBR note said.

FBR analysts added that civil disobedience and the consequence of it could create delay, as could legal action from National Environmental Policy Act requirements. "Requiring an environmental review is a powerful tool for opponents to challenge and delay infrastructure projects on both the adequacy of the review and the bureaucratic procedures," the note said.

On Jan. 30, the D.C. District Court of Appeals scheduled a status hearing for Feb. 6 to discuss updates to the case, including a timeline for a final decision on the easement from the Justice Department and the Corps.

In a ClearView Energy note on the court's decision, analysts noted that the court could delay an in-service date, even if construction is completed.