The transformation of North America’s energy landscape

Enbridge's Great Lakes to Gulf Coast series (Part 1)

Life takes energy. And energy, in turn, needs stability.

At Enbridge, we’re committed to supporting North America's energy transformation. And in recent weeks, we’ve turned the taps on a pair of critical pipeline projects that will boost North America’s energy independence, security, and self-sufficiency.

In early December, our $2.8-billion Flanagan South pipeline project went into service, with the capacity to transport about 585,000 barrels of crude oil per day from our Flanagan Terminal near Pontiac, Ill., to our Cushing Terminal at Cushing, Okla., a distance of 593 miles. And on Dec. 21, along with Enterprise Products Partners L.P., we completed the twinning of the 512-mile Seaway Pipeline system from Cushing to the Houston area, a development that will more than double the capacity of the Seaway system to 850,000 bpd.

Together, these two projects represent the North American pipeline industry’s first large-volume, full-path solution for delivering Western Canadian crude to the heavy-oil-hungry refining market in the Houston area.

In connecting the Great Lakes to the Gulf Coast, we’re now moving a secure, stable supply of North American crude, safely and reliably, to those Texas coastal refineries – which are ideally suited to heavy feedstock out of Western Canada.

“When you look at Enbridge’s impact on the industry landscape, this essentially takes us from being a west-to-east pipeline to a more extensive network – with a large-volume flow path now servicing a major refining center in the U.S. Gulf Coast,” says Minneapolis-based Brad Shamla, the vice president of U.S. operations for Enbridge’s Liquids Pipelines division.

“And from an overall industry perspective, Flanagan South and the Seaway twinning now support production closer to home. The flow of oil is now coming from a North American source, and we’re displacing our dependence on foreign supply – which is very significant for U.S. refineries,” says Shamla.

Gulf Coast refineries currently make up about 45 per cent of the total U.S. refining picture, with a capacity of more than eight million barrels a day.

“The majority of refiners in the Gulf Coast are set up to process heavy crude, and our solution provides a conduit to the heavy barrel,” says Shamla. “It establishes stability of supply, and it means those refineries are less dependent on crude from Venezuela, Africa, or the Middle East. All other things being equal, knowing you have access to barrels from a North American source is pretty important.”

To celebrate the introduction of this new North American pipeline pathway, the @enbridge blog team recently visited points along our U.S. system – all the way from the Great Lakes to the Gulf Coast.

We’ve spoken to industry contractors, business owners, and elected officials about the economic benefits of Enbridge’s projects. We’ve also talked to Enbridge’s leaders about our ongoing plans to build out much-needed pipeline infrastructure.

The Flanagan South and Seaway twinning projects are the major components of Enbridge’s Western Gulf Coast Access initiative. We’re connecting supply with demand across North America, opening up new refining markets for 1.7-million barrels a day of crude by 2017, as we help reduce continental reliance on foreign imports.

“This is a case of North American refiners controlling their own destiny with respect to supply,” says Lee Monthei, Enbridge’s vice president of U.S. Major Projects Execution.

See directly below for the various chapters in our Great Lakes to Gulf Coast series, stretching geographically from the Upper Midwest all the way to the Gulf Coast.

Part 2: Superior Terminal a key hub in Enbridge's cross-continent system

Part 3: Survey work a 'massive benefit' for landowners, communities

Part 4: Embracing the spirit of the Twin Ports since 1950

Part 5: Enbridge a 'platinum employer' in northern Wisconsin

Part 6: Flanagan Terminal becoming a lynchpin of Enbridge's network

Part 7: Investing, and expanding, in the Land of Lincoln

Part 8: Illinois communities 'embraced' Flanagan South project

Part 9: World's longest HDD project a 'mind-boggling' feat of engineering

Part 10: Saline County official sweet on Flanagan South's tax benefits

Part 11: Independence, prosperity, and an 'economic shot in the arm'

Part 12: Cushing complex key to Enbridge's infrastructure plans

Part 13: Pipeline pathway will maximize Canadian resources, says Al Monaco

Enbridge's new North American pipeline pathway hailed by Rickford, Prentice