Enbridge CEO says eastern US Gulf coast may be next big market

Thu Jan 24, 2013 4:54pm EST
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* Eastern region has half of Gulf Coast refining capacity

* Company looking at new, existing infrastructure

* Plans could come together this year

By Jeffrey Jones

CALGARY, Alberta, Jan 24 (Reuters) - Enbridge Inc has started to sketch out plans for moving Canadian crude oil to a U.S. refining market it has so far had little access to - the eastern Gulf Coast region of Louisiana and Mississippi, its chief executive said on Thursday.

Enbridge, the largest shipper of Canada's oil, has been a main player in adding pipeline capacity to the western Gulf Coast, most recently with the expansion of the Seaway pipeline between the hub at Cushing, Oklahoma, and the Houston area.

That project has begun shrinking a glut of oil supplies in the middle of the continent, where prices have been under pressure compared with international crudes. With increasingly tight capacity to move oil out of Alberta, Canadian crude has been doubly discounted.

As more supplies of Canadian oil and North Dakota's Bakken crude are shipped to Texas, refineries to the east represent the next major potential market, Enbridge CEO Al Monaco said.

He offered few details to investors at a conference in Whistler, British Columbia, however.   Continued...