As part of a continuing effort to stretch Bakken and western Canadian oil supplies into new markets, Calgary-based Enbridge Inc. on Thursday outlined a $6.2 billion, four-year effort to expand several of its pipelines to access light oil markets in the eastern United States and Canada.
The effort between the parent company and Enbridge Energy Partners LP will increase pipeline capacity on Enbridge’s North Dakota regional and U.S. mainline systems, enhance its Canadian mainline, increase its eastern access, and provide more access to U.S. Midwestern refineries, according to CEO Al Monaco, who conducted a conference call with financial analysts and news media.
“The destination is all important here, and obviously the best prices for this type of crude are all located east of the Chicago area,” Monaco said. “This is where the configuration is for light oil refineries.”
The buildout effort through 2016 will involve a number of individual projects and Enbridge subsidiaries or affiliates, Monaco said, including Enbridge Partners, which also will provide $3.4 billion of the estimated funding for the overall effort that will expand additional light oil capacity by 400,000 b/d. The rest of the funding, $2.8 billion, will come from Enbridge.
“This $6.2 billion investment rounds out our suite of major crude oil new market access initiatives for North American markets,” said Monaco, although he indicated that there will be other expansions, including additional pipeline-to-rail projects. “There is a broader [U.S.] East Coast market program that we are developing.”
Enbridge came into this year with $12 billion on the table in capital projects that were under way. Monaco said that in 2012 the company has added another nearly $16 billion in capital spending for the 2012-2016 period. Enbridge is up to $26 billion in commercially secured projects outstanding, and it still is looking at spending up to $35 billion in total by the end of 2016, he said.
Among the $6.2 billion just announced are: North Dakota Sandpiper expansion and extension ($2.5 billion) slated for early 2016 completion; a Southern Access extension ($800 million) set to come online in early 2015; two parts of its Eastern Access upsizing (Lines 9 and 6B at $100 million and $400 million, respectively) for mid-2014 and early 2016 startups; and U.S. and Canadian mainline work in the mid-2015 to early 2016 time frame with $1.8 billion committed in the United States and $600 million in Canada.
In response to analyst questions, Monaco and CFO J. Richard Bird said Enbridge has shippers for the expansion that are “really pretty notable.”
The potential is for averaging 10% annual growth rates during the next five years and beyond, said Monaco, who characterized the latest undertaking as “massive in scale by any measure.”
Monaco said “effective execution” of each of the projects is going to be critical, but he expressed confidence that Enbridge has both the human and financial resources to get the job done. “Enbridge is well under way in stakeholder consultations for some of these projects,” he said, adding that the company is in the early planning stages, including discussions with landowners and other stakeholders.
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