The Pipeline Race

By Staff Report | March 28, 2013

Providing pipeline takeaway capacity for crude oil out of the Bakken isn’t a marathon effort, it’s an all-out sprint. The 2013 infrastructure capacity for crude pipelines is roughly 633,000 barrels per day, and both current and new companies are working to add their infrastructure to that capacity.

CenterPoint Energy Bakken Crude Services LLC issued an open season call for binding, long-term volume commitments from potential customers in Dunn and McKenzie counties. Alicia Dixon, spokesperson for CenterPoint Energy, says that although the company hasn’t signed any agreements yet, “we have been in active discussions with customers who have expressed interest in our project.” Customers must commit to 1,000 barrels per day in order to lock in long-term rates. Access to the 19,500 bpd pipeline could start by fourth quarter 2013.

Enbridge Energy Partners LP, just completed its third pipeline expansion effort, with a new 16-inch pipeline from Steelman, Saskatchewan, to Cromer, Manitoba. The company also expanded an existing line from Berthold, N.D., to Steelman. But for the pipeline giant, their expansion plans don’t stop there. The need to move oil from the region is so great, Enbridge has signed on with Trunkline Gas Co., a subsidiary of Energy Transfer Partners LP, to convert a natural gas pipeline to oil. The move will relocate Bakken crude to the Enbridge Patoka, Ill., hub. From there, oil has a chance to enter the East Cost or the largest refinery in the world on the Gulf Coast by way of the Seaway Pipeline. Currently, pipeline capacity accounts for roughly 33 percent of the crude transported from the region, but with more announcements coming from established players and new hopefuls, the push for pipe should continue.