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Enterprise to Build 1,200-Mile Bakken-to-Cushing Oil Pipeline

With the backdrop of a state pipeline summit convened by North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple on Tuesday, Enterprise Products Partners LP announced its intention of building a 1,200-mile oil pipeline from the prolific Bakken Shale play to the market hub at Cushing, OK.

The announcement by Enterprise Vice President Brent Secrest came less than an hour after Dalrymple opened the morning summit in Bismarck by calling on the industry to double pipeline capacity in his state over the next two years. Adding roughly 780,000 b/d of capacity by the end of 2016 is the way to cut North Dakota’s heavy volumes of flared associated gas, he said.

Secrest, the head of Enterprise's onshore crude, pipelines and terminals, said his company plans to add 340,000 b/d of capacity from the Bakken with its proposed 30-inch diameter pipeline. The new line should be operational by the end of 2016, he said.

This will be Houston-based Enterprise's first pipeline in North Dakota. In recent years, it has had various proposals for new and reversed pipelines from Cushing, where it owns storage facilities to the Gulf Coast (see Shale Daily, Sept. 30, 2011).

As Dalrymple's goal for doubling the state's pipeline capacity illustrates, there is a thirst for more transmission pipelines linking Bakken's sweet crude oil to various U.S. markets. In May, state authorities were asked to approve a privately funded proposal by the family of Continental Resources LLC's billionaire CEO Harold Hamm to add storage tanks, pumping stations and related facilities to an existing 197-mile eight-inch diameter crude gathering system, converting it to a 65,000 b/d transmission outlet from the Bakken to Guernsey, WY, and interconnection to the market hub at Cushing (see Shale Daily, May 13).

Enterprise's proposed larger transmission pipeline promises to transport much bigger amounts of crude to the Cushing hub. Noting that his company's current focus is on assets in Texas and Oklahoma, Secrest said the new goal is to "go farther north."

At the summit meeting at Bismarck State University, Secrest stressed that the Enterprise pipeline is aimed at two major needs of Bakken producers -- "flow assurances and market choices."

The proposed new pipeline is sized to accommodate future growth that is expected in North Dakota, which has passed 1 million b/d in production and expects to get to 1.5 billion b/d relatively quickly, Secrest said.

"In terms of market choices," he said, "Cushing is the most liquid market in the country. There are multiple markets that can be reached from there."

Noting he did not expect the Enterprise announcement, Dalrymple said the state and industry working together are coming up with solutions to the challenges created by the oil boom, and pipeline announcement is another example of that.

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