Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Enbridge to phase out shipments of sour crude from North Dakota

BISMARCK, N.D. - Calgary-based Enbridge Inc. says eliminating the practice of shipping "sour" crude - oil that's high in sulfur and more difficult to refine than low- or no-sulfur "sweet" crude - will allow it to more than double by early 2013 the amount of sweet crude it will be able to ship from the Bakken and underlying Three Forks formation.

"It is an end of an age," said Kesley Myhre, a company spokeswoman in Minot. "But it also is something that is very exciting for the industry and our state."

Enbridge since 1962 has shipped North Dakota sour crude, which typically flows more slowly through a pipeline that the sweet variety, but it's a minor part of the state's crude mix now.

Myhre said sour crude accounts for fewer than 5,000 of the 161,500 barrels Enbridge moves daily on its North Dakota mainline, which runs from the western part of the state through Minot and to the company's terminal at Clearbrook, Minn.

By cutting heavier sour crude out of its mainline in North Dakota, Enbridge expects to add 23,500 barrels of sweet crude from the Bakken and Three Forks, Myhre said. There also will be no interruption of the pipeline's flow to segregate shipments of sour crude and sweet, she said.

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