Enbridge Inc. has announced further delays to an oil pipeline proposed to run from the Bakken oilfields of North Dakota through Minnesota to a terminal in Superior, Wis.
The Calgary-based company said the $2.6-billion Sandpiper project will be delayed until Bakken crude oil production recovers sufficiently to support its construction. It added the new pipeline is not expected to be needed for more than five years.
Enbridge (TSX:ENB) and Houston-based Marathon Petroleum, partners in Sandpiper, recently formed a joint venture to buy a stake in the alternative Bakken Pipeline project, which would transport oil from North Dakota across the Midwest to Texas.
Al Monaco, president and CEO of Enbridge, said in a statement that the Bakken Pipeline investment will begin to pay dividends immediately when it's ready for service later this year.
Enbridge Energy Partners president Mark Maki told reporters that "unprecedented regulatory delays had plagued the project." But Maki said the project is not dead and could be revived.
While Sandpiper faced regulatory delays, Maki said, "I don't place the blame on anyone's doorstep."
In February, Enbridge said it expected to push back the startup date for Sandpiper to 2019. It says it will now suspend the Minnesota regulatory process it had started.
Environmentalists contended Sandpiper would threaten ecologically sensitive areas. Late last year the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission ordered a full environmental impact review of Sandpiper. Enbridge has said the state's regulatory process was delaying Sandpiper and another project, a replacement pipeline to carry Canadian crude oil across northern Minnesota.
Enbridge and Houston-based Marathon Petroleum, a key partner in Sandpiper, announced in August they are forming a joint venture to buy a stake in the Bakken Pipeline project, which would transport oil from North Dakota across the Midwest to Texas.
Enbridge and Marathon had invested $800 million in Sandpiper, including money for pipeline and regulatory efforts.
Environmental groups and American Indian tribes have opposed both Enbridge pipelines in Minnesota, saying if they break they would pollute wild-rice lakes and the Mississippi River headwaters
— With files from The Associated Press