Spectra mulls expansion of its Canadian oil export pipeline

CALGARY, Alberta Fri Nov 8, 2013 4:50pm EST

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CALGARY, Alberta Nov 8 (Reuters) - Spectra Energy Inc is mulling the expansion of its Express/Platte pipeline system, one of only a handful of lines carrying Canadian crude oil exports to the United States.

Gregory Ebel, Spectra's chief executive, said in presentations this week that the company was considering twinning the existing pipeline network or extending the start of the Express line, which now begins at the storage hub of Hardisty in central Alberta, up to the oil sands region in the province's north.

"We are looking at everything from expanding this system northward to oil sands supplies to doubling the capacity of the entire system from Hardisty, Alberta to Wood River, Illinois," Ebel said, according to a transcript of a Nov. 4 conference call staged to review the company's third quarter earnings.

The Express line carries up to 280,000 barrels of crude per day 1,260 kilometers (785 miles) from Hardisty to Casper, Wyoming. There it meets the 164,000 bpd Platte line, which moves crude to the Wood River refining hub.

Spectra acquired the system in March for $1.5 billion from a consortium made up of Kinder Morgan Energy Partners LP, Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan and Borealis Infrastructure.

Express is one of three major pipelines that carry Canada's oil exports to refiners in the U.S. Midwest and the last to consider expansion to accommodate rising production from the oil sands.

Enbridge Inc is planning to expand its mainline network, which can now ship as much as 2.3 million bpd to the United States while TransCanada Corp has waited five years for presidential approvals for its controversial 800,000 bpd Keystone XL line.

Ebel said the company has not yet made any decision on whether it would expand the system, saying the project would likely be timed for later in the decade if it proceeds.

A company spokesman confirmed on Friday that the timing for any expansion has not yet been decided.

"We are looking at various growth opportunities associated with the Express/Platte pipeline system," said Phil West, a spokesman for the company. "It's too early to discuss the details, including potential timing of expansion."

Spectra shares rose 9 cents to $34.12 on the New York Stock Exchange on Friday.

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