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Enbridge to start two pipeline expansion projects

January 10, 2013
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Canadian pipeline company Enbridge has announced its plans to spend up to $600 million on two expansion projects that will boost the capacity of its Canadian mainline system between Hardisty, Alberta, and the U.S. border on the one hand, and its U.S. Lakehead system, on the other.

The pipeline is an extension of Enbridge's pipeline construction plan at Edmonton and Hardisty announced last November. The expansion will increase the capacity by 230,000 barrels per day and involves higher pumping horsepower. The expansion will require regulatory approval and is expected to be operational in 2015.

The Hardisty terminal, one of the biggest in North America, was opened in 2009. Its pipelines carry bitumen to the American market and the planned expansion will allow the transportation of increased amounts without the need for any construction works. Hardisty, which is located about 160 km southeast of Edmonton, has been a pipeline hub for more than 60 years, with many pipelines merging in the town.

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Meanwhile, the company's U.S. division, Enbridge Energy Partners, has revealed plans for a $200,000 update of the Lakehead oil pipeline system. The upgrade aims to increase pumping horsepower and will see no new pipes added to the pipeline. It will affect the section running from Neche, N.D., to Superior, Wis. and is subject to regulatory approval. The Lakehead expansion is also set to go into service by 2015. Both projects have already been approved by shippers, Enbridge noted.

Enbridge is one of the biggest players in the North American energy market. It operates the longest crude oil and liquids pipeline system in the world. Over the past few years, Enbridge has been looking to diversify its operations and to expand its production. The company also operates in natural gas production, transmission and midstream business and has an increasing involvement in power transmission. The planned expansions are among the many new projects aiming to boost the amount of crude that flows through Enbridge's North American crude oil system, the company said in a statement.

In November, Enbridge announced it was planning a new $1.8 billion pipeline between Edmonton and Hardisty. The new line will initially carry 570,000 barrels per day but will have the potential to be expanded to 800,000 barrels. Construction could start as early as the beginning of 2014, with plans to have it running by mid-2015.

In addition, Enbridge and its U.S. division announced last month that they were investing up to $6.2 billion on a series of projects to bring increasing volumes of light oil from Alberta and North Dakota to the North American market. The plans will add a further 400,000 barrels per day of light oil flow to refineries in Canada and the U.S.

Enbridge is also focusing on alternative energy sources and in future will be expanding its operations to include wind and solar energy, geothermal and hybrid fuel cells, the statement announced.

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