Enbridge's Plan

generic bitumen pipes; from Shutterstock
On November 16, 2011, Enbridge Inc. announced the purchase of a 50% share of the 670-mile Seaway Crude Pipeline System. Enterprise Products Partners L.P. continues to own the other 50% of Seaway and will operate the system.

The Seaway is an existing crude oil transportation network, originally built for natural gas, that includes a 500-mile segment from Freeport, Texas to Cushing, Oklahoma.

Seaway was reversed to carry diluted tar sand (bitumen) from Cushing to the vast refinery complex near Houston and the Texas City Terminal.

The pipeline’s reversed service began in May, 2012.[1] The change from its current feedstock to the more viscous bitumen resulted in a reduced throughput of 350,000 to 150,000 barrels per day.

With the addition of pump stations by early 2013 to increase the pressures for bitumen flow, the capacity of the Seaway Pipeline was bolstered to 400,000 barrels per day.[2]

The reversal is to relieve an oil “glut” in Cushing. This glut has been responsible for keeping midwestern gas prices low.

In March, 2012, Enbridge announced plans to increase capacity of the Seaway system even more, by an additional 450,000 barrels per day, by building a twin next to the existing Seaway pipeline.[3]

1.^ Seaway opening has changed from June to May 17, 2012, http://www.businessweek.com/news/2012-04-16/seaway-pipeline-to-begin-oil-shipments-to-gulf-on-may-17

2.^ NYMEX-U.S. crude up after Seaway pipeline pumps oil from Midwest, January 14, 2013, Reuters http://uk.reuters.com/article/2013/01/14/markets-asia-nymex-idUKL4N0AJ02X20130114

3.^ Enterprise and Enbridge to Proceed With 450,000 Barrel Per Day Expansion of Seaway Crude Oil Pipeline, March 12, 2012, Enbridge, http://www.enbridge.com/MediaCentre/News.aspx?yearTab=en2012&id=1589619