Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is the Seaway Pipeline System?

A: The Seaway Pipeline System is a combination of existing and future crude oil pipelines, storage and distribution infrastructure dedicated to providing refineries along the Texas Gulf Coast secure and reliable supplies of North American crude oil. Seaway Crude Pipeline LLC is a 50/50 joint venture between Enterprise Products Partners L.P. and Enbridge Inc.

Q: What part of the system already exists?

A: A 30-inch diameter, 500 mile pipeline has been in service between Cushing and Jones Creek, near Freeport, Texas since 1976. The Seaway system also includes the Texas City Terminal and Distribution System, which provides access to all eight refineries in the Greater Houston area, which represent more than 2 million barrels per day of refining capacity.

Q: Why was the direction of the pipeline reversed?

A: Growing North American crude oil production, combined with a lack of southbound pipeline capacity, has created a bottleneck at the Cushing hub. The reversal gives producers in established and emerging domestic basins the capability to serve the world's largest concentration of refineries, located along the Gulf Coast, which is expected to reduce shipments of imported crude oil.

Q: Does Seaway have plans to expand the existing system?

A: Yes. Due to the strong demand for pipeline capacity needed to deliver North American-produced crude oil, Seaway is constructing a 512-mile, 30-inch diameter pipeline that is designed to parallel the existing right-of-way. The Seaway loop, or twin, will add 450,000 BPD of incremental capacity following its completion, which is expected in the first half of 2014.

Q: What types of crude oil will be transported on the Seaway system?

A: The pipelines will carry a wide variety of crude oil originating from various North American production areas, including the Midcontinent, the emerging Bakken play in North Dakota, the Permian Basin in West Texas and Canada. All of these varieties are in demand from Gulf Coast refiners.

Q: Will the heavier crude oil from Canada create any special challenges for the pipeline?

A: No. The characteristics of Canadian heavy crude oil differ very little from the Venezuelan and Mexican production that has been transported through the Seaway system since 1995 and no additional modifications or operational changes will be required to continue operating safely and reliably. All grades of crude oil transported on the Seaway system are required to meet certain specifications to protect the integrity of the infrastructure, and those specifications will not be changing.

Q: How will the crude oil eventually make it to the Gulf Coast refineries?

A: A 36-inch diameter, 65-mile pipeline lateral will be built from the Seaway Jones Creek Terminal, north of Freeport to Enterprise's ECHO crude oil storage facility in southeast Houston. From ECHO, shippers will be able to access refineries via pipeline and waterborne transportation along the Houston Ship Channel. Additionally, a 30-inch diameter, 95-mile pipeline will be built to transport crude oil from ECHO to the Port Arthur/Beaumont refining complex. When completed, the new infrastructure will give shippers access to more than 4 million BPD of Gulf Coast refining capacity.

Q: What measures are in place to ensure the safety of the pipeline?

A: A comprehensive safety and integrity management program is in place that is designed to help ensure reliable operation of the Seaway system, as well as protection of the public, employees, contractors and the environment. State-of-the-art electronic systems that provide 24/7 electronic monitoring and corrosion protection of pipelines, in conjunction with internal integrity testing, routine ground and air surveillance, and public outreach programs, are among the protective measures in place.

Q: How will Seaway benefit the communities in which it will be located?

A: The project is expected to generate more than 3,000 direct jobs during construction. States and communities along the pipeline route can look forward to economic benefits in the form of increased use of local goods and services, and additional tax revenues to support public works and educational programs. By providing an outlet for growing supplies of North American crude oil, the Seaway Pipeline supports continued development of domestic resources, which is a strong economic driver in producing areas and the refining sector.

Q: How will America benefit from Seaway?

A: By facilitating the development of domestic crude oil reserves, Seaway will help reduce the need for foreign imports and promoting energy security.

Q: What steps are involved in constructing a pipeline?

A: Once a pipeline has been approved for construction, it is built in phases, starting with clearing and grading. Then crews string, weld and install the pipe, laying it into a trench and then covering it with soil. As with the existing Seaway pipeline, the twin will be made from high-strength carbon steel joints of pipe welded together. Before operations begin, the pipe will be carefully inspected and hydrostatically tested by filling it with water at high pressure, as required by federal law. The entire construction and installation process will be monitored by inspectors and we will meet or exceed the safety, health and environmental standards established for this type of project.

Q: What is being done to minimize Seaway's environmental impact?

Q: Will I still be able to use my land after the pipeline has been installed?

A: At the end of construction, the land will be restored as closely as possible to pre-construction conditions. Upon completion there will be few restrictions regarding land use over the pipeline's path. Typically, the only restrictions include the construction of new permanent structures, ponds and pools, excessive dirt or fill, as well as its removal, and the planting of deep-rooted vegetation, such as large trees on the easement. Beyond this, landowners are usually permitted to use the surface of the land much as they had prior to the installation of the pipeline facilities, provided that such uses do not interfere with the safe operation of the pipeline.