When TransCanada first sought shipping commitments for the pipeline spur in 2010, North Dakota was producing about 342,000 barrels of oil daily. The state now puts out nearly 1 million barrels daily.
Northern producers have increasingly turned to shipping oil by train as the Keystone is debated. North Dakota oil began being shipped by trains in 2008, when the state reached its then-capacity for pipeline shipments of 189,000 barrels per day, said Justin Kringstad, director of the North Dakota Pipeline Authority. About 60 percent of the state's crude is currently being moved by rail.
Kringstad said TransCanada's Bakken Marketlink project remains a critical part of the state's ability to move crude to market.
"It's still important, no doubt," he said. "It improves long-term access to large refining markets," he said.
Howard said that producers using trains are expected to return to pipelines when they become available. They are "fully committed to moving that volume with us," he said.
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