Enbridge Energy Partners LP (EEP) plans to invest $175 million to expand its East Texas system to provide gathering, treating and transmission services for several major gas producers on the Texas side of the Haynesville Shale, the Houston-based partnership said Thursday.

EEP said it has signed long-term agreements with several major producers to provide services in Shelby, Sabine, San Augustine and Nacogdoches counties.

“We envision additional infrastructure development for our customers beyond what we’ve already committed in this region,” said Mark Maki, president of EEP’s management company. “We consider the Texas Haynesville to be one of the best natural gas plays in North America and expect long-term fundamentals to support development of this resource well into the future.”

While it experienced one of the biggest slides in rig counts over the last year, some industry sources believe the Haynesville is still among the primary plays and just needs a sizeable jump in prices — not expected to occur in the near term — to reverse that declining rig count (see Shale Daily, April 26).

EEP is also working on an expansion of its Enbridge North Dakota System, which is being driven by rapidly expanding development in the oily Bakken Shale and Three Forks formations of North Dakota (see Shale Daily, Feb. 15).

EEP on Friday reported 1Q2011 net income of $117.1 million (38 cents/share) compared with $115.4 million (42 cents) in 1Q2010.

“We are making good progress on our strategies and growth initiatives that support our annual distribution growth target rate of 2-5%,” Maki said.