King of the Fields: U.S. heading for top oil producer status; Enbridge plays important role

North Dakota is a major player in making the United States the top oil producer in the world.

“It’s a unique situation going on in North Dakota right now actually to broaden it out to North America,” said Bob Steede, general manager of Enbridge Pipelines ND.

“When I was in school we were told that we were going to run out of oil,” Steede said. He said reports then were that oil would keep declining over time.

But all that has changed.

“We are fairly close – it’s not in our too-distant future – that we are going to see the United States as the top oil producer in the world. North America will have energy independence by somewhere between 2020 and 2025,” Steede said.

Steede and Katie Haarsager, community relations adviser for Enbridge Pipelines ND, spoke Feb. 28 to members of the Minot Area Chamber of Commerce’s Energy Committee.

Steede has been with Enbridge Pipelines ND since Oct. 1.

“What’s going on is we’ve got an infrastructure that’s very mature and in place that relies on a lot of imported oil so you have a lot of pipelines and other infrastructures set up to bring oil from the coasts and bring it inland, and then the Enbridge system bringing oil from the north into Canada down into the middle. Everything is kind of meeting in the middle,” he said.

“As we achieve that energy independence, we need everything to reverse where all the infrastructure points out toward the coasts,” Steede said.

Last month Enbridge Inc. announced the purchase of a natural gas pipeline between southern Illinois and Louisiana that will be converted to transport crude oil. The pipeline will ship up to 660,000 barrels per day of Canadian and North Dakota oil to St. James, La., from Enbridge’s pipeline network in southern Illinois.

In North Dakota, Enbridge delivers crude by pipeline and also by rail as a result of its Berthold rail facility.

In Minot the Enbridge office in the Arrowhead Shopping Center is a new location, where the company has been in since after the Souris River flood, Haarsager said.

Enbridge also has the station north of the North Dakota State Fairgrounds and its main office in southwest Minot along 16th Street.

Steede said rail is really bridging the gap for the transport of crude.

“We’ve got a system that’s going through a significant change. Pipes don’t just happen overnight. It takes us a series of years to do those types of projects,” Steede said.

He said Enbridge has announced about $18 billion worth of new infrastructure in North America.

“For North Dakota, you don’t have enough outlets,” Steede said. “North Dakota keeps producing new oil, Canada’s producing more oil, the Enbridge system is connected to only so many refineries.”

He said that infrastructure to connect to the coasts is needed.