Enbridge Turns to Unused Pipe for Activist Remedy Amid Oil Boom

Enbridge Inc. sees reversing and upgrading pipelines to transport growing volumes of North American crude as a way to address public opposition that is slowing new projects.

“There is no doubt that people want things in energy to be developed in a sustainable way,” Chief Executive Officer Al Monaco said in an interview at Bloomberg’s Houston office today. “The public’s expectations are evolving and greenfield projects take longer. So if you can use existing infrastructure, it obviously makes sense.”

More than 20 pipeline projects, including reversals and expansions, are expected to come into service in 2013 to help transport crude that’s become cheaper than oil traded globally as new output in North America outstrips demand from Oklahoma to Canada.

TransCanada Corp.’s Keystone XL pipeline, a $7.6 billion proposal to move crude from Canada to Texas refineries, has faced delays of more than two years as environmentalists who oppose development of the oil sands urge U.S. regulators to reject the project. Thousands of protesters marched to the White House yesterday in opposition to the project, which is awaiting approval from the U.S. State Department because it crosses an international border.

Enbridge, the largest transporter of Canadian crude to the U.S., announced last week a proposal to convert part of the Trunkline natural gas system into the first pipeline capable of moving as much as 660,000 barrels a day of crude from the Midwest to Louisiana-area refineries.

Canadian Discount

The company, based in Calgary, also helped reverse the Seaway pipeline from Oklahoma to Texas and is seeking approval from Canadian regulators to ship crude from Alberta to eastern Canada.

Talks between industry officials, the Canadian federal government and various provinces have improved in recent months as some Canadian crude has begun to trade at as much as $40 below similar oil in Mexico, Monaco said.

“There’s this recognition that we’re leaving value on the table,” Monaco said.

Enbridge rose 1 percent to C$44.81 at the close today in Toronto, an all-time high. The shares have risen 4.2 percent this year.