North Dakota is a major player in making the United States the top oil producer in the world.
"It's a unique situation going on in North Dakota right now actually to broaden it out to North America," said Bob Steede, general manager of Enbridge Pipelines ND.
"When I was in school we were told that we were going to run out of oil," Steede said. He said reports then were that oil would keep declining over time.
This aerial photo shows Enbridge tanks at the Beaver Lodge Station, south of Tioga. Enbridge Pipelines North Dakota transports the state’s crude oil refineries in the Midwest and beyond.
These Enbridge tanks are at Stanley. Enbridge actively promotes public awareness of its pipeline system. Excavators and residents along the route are asked to “Call Before You Dig.”
But all that has changed.
"We are fairly close - it's not in our too-distant future - that we are going to see the United States as the top oil producer in the world. North America will have energy independence by somewhere between 2020 and 2025," Steede said.
Steede and Katie Haarsager, community relations adviser for Enbridge Pipelines ND, spoke Feb. 28 to members of the Minot Area Chamber of Commerce's Energy Committee.
Enbridge Part of Bakken Expansion Program in service
This week, Enbridge Energy Partners and Enbridge Income Fund announced its Bakken Pipeline Expansion Project, part of Enbridge's Bakken Expansion Program, is complete and in service.
The project, done by the Partnership in the United States and the Fund in Canada, reversed and expanded an existing pipeline from Berthold to Steelman in Saskatchewan and constructed a new 16-inch pipeline from a new terminal near Steelman to the Enbridge Pipelines Inc. mainline terminal near Cromer in Manitoba.
According to a news release, the project provides 145,000 barrels per day of capacity for growing production from the Bakken and Three Forks Formations located in North Dakota, Montana, Manitoba and Saskatchewan, of which 25,000 bpd was placed in service during the first quarter of 2012.
Once on the Enbridge mainline, Bakken production will have access to multiple markets accessible from the mainline and connected pipeline systems. Anchor shippers have given firm commitments totaling 100,000 bpd.
"We are pleased to bring this project into service on schedule and under budget," said Mark Maki, president of the Partnership, based in Houston. "By leveraging our extensive existing operations in the area, we were able to effectively respond to the needs of our customers and provide economical and attractive transportation takeaway options."
Production from the Bakken Formation in the Williston Basin has grown from 200,000 bpd to more than 700,000 bpd in the last five years, with potential to expand to 1.2 million bpd or more in the next six years.
"This is the third expansion project we have undertaken in the last five years to meet the needs of Saskatchewan producers and enable growing production from the Bakken region to access key U.S. markets," said John Whelen, president of the Enbridge Income Fund Holdings Inc., based in Calgary, Alberta. "This latest expansion, which is predominately underwritten by take or pay contracts, represents another attractive and stable source of distributable cash flow for the Fund."
Steede has been with Enbridge Pipelines ND since Oct. 1.
"What's going on is we've got an infrastructure that's very mature and in place that relies on a lot of imported oil so you have a lot of pipelines and other infrastructures set up to bring oil from the coasts and bring it inland, and then the Enbridge system bringing oil from the north into Canada down into the middle. Everything is kind of meeting in the middle," he said.
"As we achieve that energy independence, we need everything to reverse where all the infrastructure points out toward the coasts," Steede said.
Last month Enbridge Inc. announced the purchase of a natural gas pipeline between southern Illinois and Louisiana that will be converted to transport crude oil. The pipeline will ship up to 660,000 barrels per day of Canadian and North Dakota oil to St. James, La., from Enbridge's pipeline network in southern Illinois.
In North Dakota, Enbridge delivers crude by pipeline and also by rail as a result of its Berthold rail facility.
In Minot the Enbridge office in the Arrowhead Shopping Center is a new location, where the company has been in since after the Souris River flood, Haarsager said.
Enbridge also has the station north of the North Dakota State Fairgrounds and its main office in southwest Minot along 16th Street.
Steede said rail is really bridging the gap for the transport of crude.
"We've got a system that's going through a significant change. Pipes don't just happen overnight. It takes us a series of years to do those types of projects," Steede said.
He said Enbridge has announced about $18 billion worth of new infrastructure in North America.
"For North Dakota, you don't have enough outlets," Steede said. "North Dakota keeps producing new oil, Canada's producing more oil, the Enbridge system is connected to only so many refineries."
He said that infrastructure to connect to the coasts is needed.