Enterprise Products Partners LP (EPP) and Enbridge Inc. will hold concurrent open seasons Jan. 4-Feb. 10 to solicit capacity commitments from shippers for an expansion of their Seaway crude oil pipeline and an extension of the pipeline into the Port Arthur/Beaumont refining market in southeast Texas, the companies said.

Last month Seaway's backers announced plans to reverse the flow of the 500-mile, 30-inch diameter pipeline to start sending 150,000 b/d from Cushing, OK, to the Houston area in the second quarter of 2012 (see Shale Daily, Nov. 18). The partnership also plans to build an 85-mile extension from the Houston area to Port Arthur heavy oil refineries, and to expand the project to 400,000 b/d in the first half of 2013.

Those plans are part of an effort to break through the Midcontinent bottleneck and flow expanding supplies of crude oil, bolstered by shale production, to the Gulf of Mexico (GOM) and world markets -- as are TransCanada Corp.'s recently announced plans to build a Cushing-to-GOM southern section of the stalled Keystone XL oil pipeline.

The partnership's plans to construct the Wrangler pipeline to transport crude oil from the oversupplied hub at Cushing to a Texas Gulf Coast refining complex (see Shale Daily, Sept. 30) have been scrapped, but shippers that participated in an open season for that project "have indicated strong support for the Seaway reversal and expansion," EPP and Enbridge said.

"Depending on the results of the open season, the Seaway pipeline would be looped or twinned to create additional capacity. This new loop would be built at the size and capacity required to meet shipper needs and in a location that generally follows the route of the existing Seaway pipeline," the companies said Tuesday.

Separately, Enbridge said it will hold a concurrent second open season for additional capacity on its Gulf Coast Access project, which would transport crude oil from Flanagan, IL, south to Cushing via an additional line that it will construct, and then to Houston and Port Arthur on the Seaway pipeline system joint venture.

"Expansion of the Seaway System, complemented by the addition of capacity on Enbridge's systems from the Chicago area to Cushing, gives both U.S. and Canadian producers new and timely options to reach the Gulf Coast," said Enbridge CEO Patrick Daniel.

EPP and Enbridge each own a 50% ownership interest in Seaway, with EPP serving as operator. Enbridge acquired its interest in the project from ConocoPhillips for $1.15 billion in a deal that closed Tuesday.