Enbridge Inc., already the dominant shipper of oil sands crude, is expanding its Northern Alberta presence with a $370-million pipeline linking a Suncor Energy Inc. plant to its existing pipeline system.
"As the largest operator of oil sands regional infrastructure, and with our corresponding ability to provide favourable and competitive transportation solutions to producers, we expect to see continued attractive investment opportunities of this sort for some time to come," said Steve Wuori, the Enbridge executive in charge of liquids pipelines.
The Calgary-based pipeline giant said Thursday it will build a new 95-kilometre line connecting a terminal near Suncor's oil sands plant to the origin point of its Waupisoo Pipeline. Waupisoo funnels oil sands crude to an Edmonton-area hub.
The new Wood Buffalo pipeline will run parallel to the Athabasca pipeline Suncor currently uses. Suncor will continue to use the Athabasca line as well, Enbridge said.
Waupisoo and Athabasca already tap into oil sands projects operated by Suncor, ConocoPhillips and Cenovus Energy Inc. Statoil's Liesmer project was recently added as a shipper to the system.
Enbridge, which has a North American continental pipeline system stretching from northern Canada to the southern United States, has announced $1.6-billion in spending plans over the past year to expand its oil sands regional system.
The oil sands have become an increasingly important source of energy for the United States and Canada, with additional extraction and pipeline capacity to be added by several producers over the coming years.
Enbridge is also building new processing and shipment infrastructure for the Kearl oil sands mine, which Imperial Oil Ltd. and its U.S. parent ExxonMobil Corp. are in the midst of building.
"Suncor was the anchor shipper that enabled our original entry into oil sands regional pipeline and terminaling infrastructure with the Athabasca Pipeline and terminal in 1999," Mr. Wuori said.
The new Wood Buffalo 30-inch-diameter line is expected to be in service by the middle of 2013. Enbridge has already filed an application with the Alberta Energy Resources and Conservation Board (ERCB).
Enbridge also said Thursday two of its affiliates kicked off an open-season for a planned expansion to its Bakken system, in which potential customers are invited to participate in the project.
That $582-million project, announced earlier this week, will be able to accommodate higher volumes of crude from oil pools in the Bakken and Three Forks formations, which stretch over parts of Saskatchewan, North Dakota and Montana.