Pipeline celebrated, leaders call for more
BERTHOLD -- Enbridge Pipelines employees paused Monday to mark the completion of two projects that nearly doubled the amount of oil the company transports out of North Dakota.
State and federal officials joined the celebration, but urged Enbridge to move forward with additional projects to move even more Bakken crude.
"We come here to say congratulations, but we also come here to say we need more," said Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D.
The recently completed Bakken Pipeline Expansion Project adds 145,000 barrels per day of pipeline capacity and the new Berthold Rail Facility transports another 80,000 barrels a day.
Enbridge's system is now capable of transporting 475,000 barrels of Bakken crude oil per day, representing more than half of North Dakota's current oil production of about 820,000 barrels per day.
But as the state's oil production is projected to hit 1 million barrels per day or more, additional capacity will be needed.
"We really are an energy powerhouse to the nation but we can't do it without the infrastructure," said Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D.
Steve Wuori, Enbridge's president of liquid pipelines, said although Enbridge is a pipeline company, it saw an opportunity to add a rail project in Berthold, about 25 miles west of Minot. Enbridge had extra pipeline capacity coming into Berthold from the west, but not going east or north. The addition of the rail facility, which loads eight trains each week, transports more Bakken crude while also reaching new markets.
"We spend a lot of time thinking about the right markets for high-quality Bakken crude," Wuori said.
The best markets for Bakken crude are in the Upper Midwest, the eastern United States and Canada, as well as Washington state and California, Wuori said. Refineries in Houston and other areas in the South are receiving a lot of oil from the Eagle Ford in Texas and other major shale plays, he said.
"It's important for North Dakota Bakken crude to move to markets where it's not going to go head-to-head with other U.S. shale plays that are also growing very strongly," Wuori said.
Enbridge also is constructing the Eddystone Rail Facility in Pennsylvania that is designed to receive crude oil from the Bakken and supply East Coast refineries.
The company's next project is the Sandpiper Pipeline, which would transport 225,000 barrels of crude daily from northwest North Dakota to Superior, Wis. Enbridge began holding open houses on the project Monday, and will hold additional public meetings in Stanley, Devils Lake and East Grand Forks, Minn., this week.
If regulatory hurdles are cleared, construction on the project could begin in early 2015.
Gov. Jack Dalrymple praised Enbridge for its $1.3 billion investment in the state and called on the company to help reduce the amount of natural gas that is flared due to a lack of infrastructure.
"We need solutions to that challenge," Dalrymple said. "We are making progress but we need to make a lot more progress than we have been making."
Berthold Mayor Alan Lee complimented Enbridge for being a good community partner, including donating $200,000 that the city used for a day care facility and police housing.
Lee, who has been the city's mayor for more than 20 years, noted that Monday was the first time the entire Congressional delegation and the state's governor were in town together.
"To me that just emphasizes how important this project is to us and to the nation," Lee said.