By Ben Dummett
Enterprise Products Partners LP (>> Enterprise Products Partners L.P.) and Enbridge Inc. (ENB, ENB.T) said Saturday that the Seaway pipeline has started to accept crude oil at the Cushing, Okla. storage hub for delivery to the U.S. Gulf Coast.
The bottleneck at the critical Cushing storage hub where crude-oil inventories had reached historic highs had contributed to benchmark U.S. oil prices being as much as $20 below European benchmark Brent. But on Thursday, Enterprise and Enbridge announced completion of the much-awaited reversal of the Seaway pipeline, setting the stage for crude oil to flow from the storage hub to the Gulf Coast refining hub. At that time, the companies also indicated they would start shipping oil this weekend.
Enterprise and Enbridge, which control the pipeline through a 50/50 joint venture, said the pipeline will have an initial capacity of 150,000 barrels a day. Capacity will expand to 400,000 barrels a day in the first quarter of 2013.
The two companies announced the reversal project in November 2011 after Enbridge bought ConocoPhillips's (COP) 50% stake in the pipeline for $1.1 billion.
-By Ben Dummett; Dow Jones Newswires; email@example.com
--Ben Lefebvre in Houston contributed to this article.