In this week’s news update, the Bakken pipeline is approved by Iowa utilities regulators, and the rig count declines yet again.

The number of rigs seeking oil and natural gas in the U.S. declined by nine last week to 480, a new record low for the U.S., according to oilfield services company Baker Hughes.

The previous low of 488 was recorded in 1999.

The Houston-based company reported in numbers released March 11 that 386 rigs were seeking oil and 94 for natural gas. A year ago, 1,125 rigs were active.

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Texas lost 12 rigs, Oklahoma lost three, New Mexico lost two and North Dakota and Ohio each lost one. Louisiana and Pennsylvania each gained three rigs, Kansas gained two and California and Utah each gained one.

Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, West Virginia and Wyoming were all unchanged.

Bakken Pipeline Approved in Iowa
The last state permit needed for a pipeline from North Dakota to Illinois that will carry a half-million barrels of crude oil daily was approved March 10 by Iowa utilities regulators.

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The regulators also gave the pipeline company, Energy Transfer Partners, authority to use eminent domain for land that property owners are unwilling to voluntarily provide.

The Iowa Utilities Board voted unanimously to approve a hazardous pipeline permit for the Dakota Access pipeline. The pipeline will cross through 18 Iowa counties and 1,300 parcels of land.

An appeal is likely from individual landowners, farmers and a coalition of environmental and property rights groups who have voiced concerns about spills that could harm farmland, rivers and streams.

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TransCanada Showing Interest in Other Pipelines
TransCanada, whose Keystone XL pipeline was rejected by the Obama administration in November 2015, was reportedly in talks with Columbia Pipeline Group about an acquisition, according to a story in the New York Times on March 10.

The story reports that the discussions subsided and may not lead to a deal. TransCanada confirmed in a statement that it had been in conversations about a potential transaction without naming the company and declining to comment further.

Columbia owns and operates 15,000 miles of pipeline that stretches from New York to the Gulf of Mexico. Columbia had no comment regarding the discussions.

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