BISMARCK-A potential expansion of the Dakota Access Pipeline took a step forward Friday, Oct. 19.

Energy Transfer Partners announced it is seeking commitments from shippers to transport more Bakken crude to the Gulf Coast.

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The proposed expansion would increase the pipeline's capacity to 570,000 barrels per day, said company spokeswoman Vicki Granado.

Energy Transfer Partners CEO Kelcy Warren discussed the possibility of an expansion in August during a roundtable discussion in Bismarck with U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry. At that time, the pipeline was transporting about 500,000 barrels per day, according to the company.

Granado said the expansion would require "minimal asset modifications" within the existing pipeline right-of-way.

Justin Kringstad, director of the North Dakota Pipeline Authority, said companies can increase the capacity of a pipeline by adding a chemical to the oil that makes it flow easier in the pipeline system. Another option is to add additional horsepower or pumping stations, Kringstad said.

Dakota Access connects with the Energy Transfer Crude Oil Pipeline, which transports oil from Illinois to Nederland, Texas.

Since Dakota Access began operating in June 2017, North Dakota producers have saved money on transportation costs and received competitive prices by accessing Gulf Coast markets.

North Dakota produced nearly 1.3 million barrels of oil per day in August. With the state's oil production projected to keep climbing, the state will need to add more pipeline capacity, Kringstad said.

Every expansion at this point is going to assist in keeping the market strong in North Dakota," he said. "But long-term, it will take some substantial new investment to continue to keep North Dakota oil connected to new markets."