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Enbridge stalls on Dakota Access purchase

Enbridge Terminal in Superior. (2013 file / News Tribune)

Enbridge is giving itself some breathing room before closing on a deal to buy a stake in the contentious and stalled Dakota Access pipeline.

Enbridge Energy Partners L.P. and its joint venture partner Marathon Petroleum Corp. now have until March 31 to back out of the deal, according to a recent Securities and Exchange Commission filing. The previous deadline to terminate the sale was Dec. 31.

SEC filings show the joint venture is to pay $2 billion for a 49 percent interest in Bakken Holdings Co. LLC, a subsidiary of Energy Transfer Partners and Sunoco Logistics Partners that owns 75 percent of the Dakota Access pipeline. Phillips 66 owns the remaining 25 percent.

The Enbridge/Marathon purchase was announced Aug. 2, just before pipeline protests erupted around a river crossing north of the Standing Rock Reservation.

Since, protesters have celebrated a major though possibly short-lived victory as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers this month denied an easement necessary for the pipeline to cross a dammed section of the Missouri River called Lake Oahe.

The 1,172-mile pipeline, capable of carrying 400,000 barrels of crude oil between North Dakota and Illinois per day, is complete but for that crossing.

None of the companies involved cite a reason to push back the termination date in SEC filings, though uncertainty over the project’s future could play a part.

A fossil-fuel friendly administration — President-elect Donald Trump supports completion of the pipeline and an oil company CEO has been nominated to head the State Department — could take steps to speed the pipeline to completion.

Enbridge, a Canadian pipeline company, has a major terminal in Superior and employs hundreds of people in the Twin Ports.

Brooks Johnson

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

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