Enbridge mulls Midwest rail terminal to ease pipeline congestion

Tue Jul 22, 2014 6:50pm EDT
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By Nia Williams

CALGARY, Alberta, July 22 (Reuters) - Canada's largest pipeline company Enbridge Inc may build a 140,000 barrel per day unit train unloading terminal in Pontiac, Illinois, to relieve congestion on its crude oil export network.

The terminal would be able to handle two unit trains a day and could be in service by the first quarter of 2016, according to a filing with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

Pontiac is the origin of Enbridge's new 600,000 bpd Flanagan South pipeline to Cushing, Oklahoma, and the rail terminal would allow shippers to bypass congestion on pipelines in the Canadian portion of Enbridge's export network.

Enbridge Energy Partners LP, the company's U.S. arm, is also petitioning to build a new receipt point on the network, known as the Lakehead system, at Flanagan Illinois, which would allow crude to be loaded from rail cars onto Flanagan South.

Enbridge spokesman Graham White confirmed an affiliate of Enbridge is exploring the potential to establish a rail unloading facility near Pontiac. He added the project is still in development.

"It is expected to provide regional refineries access to growing supplies of crude oil from North American producers and to also provide relief during periods when upstream apportionment prevents those barrels from moving via an all-pipeline route," he said.

Apportionment, when the amount of crude shippers can transport on a pipeline is rationed, is a regular source of frustration for Canadian crude traders, who are often left scrambling to sell barrels in Alberta as a result.

Enbridge has been rushing to expand its 2.5 million bpd export network as surging production from the oil sands outpaces pipeline capacity, creating crude bottlenecks in Alberta and trading at a discount to U.S. grades.   Continued...