Head of the class in transporting petroleum around the Great Lakes is Enbridge Energy Partners, which owns the 1,900-mile US portion (Lakehead System) of the world's longest liquid petroleum pipeline. When combined with the Canadian segment (owned and operated by Enbridge Inc.), the pipeline system spans some 3,300 miles across North America. Other midstream assets include 6,200 miles of crude oil gathering and transportation lines and 30.7 million barrels of crude oil storage and terminaling capacity, and 11,300 miles of natural gas gathering and transportation pipelines. Enbridge's US unit Enbridge Energy Management owns a 27% stake in the company.
The global recession and resulting low commodity prices and weaker demand hurt the company's revenues and income in 2009. However, the market bounced back in late 2009 and in 2010. Higher oil prices resulted in higher revenues for Enbridge Energy Partners in 2010, but net income slumped, due mainly to higher operating expenses and costs related to the oil spills.
Enbridge Energy Partners' business strategy is to focus on maintaining and expanding its core pipelines business while developing additional transportation and storage assets.
In 2009 and 2010 the company completed two big pipeline expansion projects, Alberta Clipper and Southern Access. The Alberta Clipper line stretches 1,000 miles from Superior to the Alberta oil sands in Canada, is already underway. The crude oil pipeline provides service between Hardisty, Alberta, and Superior, Wisconsin. Initial capacity is 450,000 barrels per day, eventually reaching up to 800,000 barrels per day. The Southern Access project increases heavy crude oil capacity of into the Chicago region by 400,000 barrels a day.
Growing its midstream assets, in 2010 the company acquired the Elk City Gathering and Processing System from Atlas Pipeline Partners for $682 million. The deal, which includes 800 miles of natural gas gathering pipeline and related assets, expands the company's market position and existing midstream assets in the Texas Panhandle and Southwestern Oklahoma.
In 2010 the company acquired the Elk City pipeline from Atlas Pipeline Partners for $686 million. The deal boosted Enbridge Energy Partners' Anadarko assets, adding 800 miles of natural gas gathering pipeline, one hydrogen sulfide treating plant, and three cryogenic processing plants.
In a major public relations setback, in July 2010 Enbridge Energy Partners' Lakehead System pipeline sprung a leak, spilling more than 1 million gallons of oil into the Kalamazoo River, causing the company to close down the 190,000 barrel-per-day pipeline, and launch a major clean up program. In September the company reported another pipeline leak in Illinois. Both leaks were contained and the pipelines repaired.