Houston-based Enterprise Products Partners LP on Thursday kicked off a binding open season for capacity on its proposed crude oil pipeline from the Williston Basin in North Dakota to the hub at Cushing, OK. The open commitment period will close Oct. 17.

In addition to Bakken crude from the Williston, Enterprise intends to carry supplies from the Powder River and Denver Julesburg (DJ) basins in a new 1,200-mile, 30-inch diameter pipeline with an initial capacity of 340,000 b/d.

Enterprise said the pipeline would have expansion capability up to 700,000 b/d. The open season will help determine initial capacity.

"The Bakken-to-Cushing pipeline would have the capability to transport up to six grades of crude oil and products, including Rockies condensate and processed condensate," Enterprise said. "Subject to sufficient customer commitments, the pipeline is expected to begin service in stages, beginning with the DJ-to-Cushing portion in 4Q2016. It should be fully operational by 3Q2017."

In a presentation Wednesday to the Barclays CEO Energy-Power Conference, Enterprise CFO W. Randall Fowler said the company's future investment in crude oil pipelines is expected to grow from 13% to 22% of the company's $12 billion capital budget, 2013-2016.

The new pipeline will promote continued development in some of the nation's major producing areas, according to Enterprise COO Jim Teague. "By leveraging the capabilities of our existing midstream network, the Bakken-to-Cushing pipeline would provide flow assurance and market choice," he said.

Teague said the project seeks to provide access to "one of the most liquid crude oil trading hubs in the world" by providing access to Cushing for supplies from the Williston, Powder River and DJ basins. It also would provide access to storage and pipeline networks serving the U.S. Gulf Coast.

For information on the open season, contact Brent Secrest, (713) 381-2545, or besecrest@eprod.com; or Greg Mills, (713) 381-4079, or gmills@eprod.com.