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Enbridge closes on Dakota Access stake

An Enbridge oil tank near Berthold, N.D. (2014 file / Forum News Service)

Enbridge has closed on its $1.5 billion purchase of a stake in the contentious Dakota Access pipeline.

Enbridge Energy Partners said in a release Wednesday it acquired the 27.6 percent interest in the project "as final conditions have now been met."

The company first announced the purchase in August but pushed back closing on it in December after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers denied the final approval necessary to complete the pipeline's construction.

The easement to cross under the Lake Oahe reservoir north of the Standing Rock Indian Reservation has been at the center of pipeline protests for months as tribes and other opponents gathered to halt the Dakota Access pipeline. The Duluth City Council joined the debate by passing a resolution supporting the protesters late last year.

Last week, with the support of the Trump administration, the Corps granted the necessary easement. The remaining stretch of the pipeline was under construction as of Tuesday, and legal options for opponents were running thin.

The 1,172-mile pipeline will be capable of carrying 400,000 barrels of crude oil between North Dakota and Illinois per day; it does not cross through Minnesota or Wisconsin.

Enbridge closing on the purchase shows the company is confident the pipeline will be finished and provide a return for the Canadian company. It had until March 31 to back out of the deal.

In the Wednesday news release, Enbridge's Guy Jarvis, president, of liquids pipelines and major projects, said the Dakota Access pipeline "is being built and operated with what we believe are best-in-class pipeline safety measures.

"We look forward to working with our partners to ensure that the commitment to safe operations and maintenance of positive working relationships with all stakeholders along the right of way is a top priority," Jarvis said.

Neither the Enbridge news release nor its Securities and Exchange Commission filing made Wednesday night mention Marathon Petroleum Corp., which originally was set to enter a joint venture with Enbridge Energy Partners that would spend $2 billion on a combined stake in the project.

Enbridge has a major pipeline terminal in Superior capable of handling 2.4 million barrels of oil per day, and the company employs hundreds of people in the Twin Ports.

Brooks Johnson

Brooks covers business and the economy for the Duluth News Tribune.

(218) 723-5329
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