Open Season Delayed for Mainline Oil Pipeline System

Three market sources told Reuters that Enbridge Inc., has delayed the start of an open season to solicit bids for contracted space on its Mainline oil pipeline system, North America's largest oil-shipping network. Although Enbridge said previously that the open season was meant to start in mid-July and last for two months, the reason for the delay was not immediately clear.

"We have been in discussions with interested shippers and are working to accommodate to their needs. We anticipate on holding the open season soon," Enbridge spokeswoman Tracie Kenyon said in an emailed statement when asked about the delay.

The Mainline system is a common carrier system in which shippers submit monthly bids for capacity, but Enbridge plans to turn that to one that is mostly contracted for up to two decades. By locking shippers into long-term contracts, Enbridge will have a chance to capitalize on delays to competitors' plans to build pipelines, and secure future cash flow at a time when anxiety about market access is dominating headlines.

Approval from Canada's National Energy Board regulator is needed for changes to the Mainline system and would take effect in 2021.