Jones Day, Vinson Help Secure North Dakota Pipeline Deal
Canadian energy company Enbridge announced Monday that it has reached an agreement with Marathon Petroleum under which the latter will serve as the primary distributor of the oil that will flow from shale-rich North Dakota through its planned $2.6 billion Sandpiper pipeline.
The Sandpiper pipeline is expected to carry more than 200,000 barrels of oil a day from the Bakken Shale formation in North Dakota through Minnesota to an Enbridge terminal in Wisconsin on the shores of Lake Superior.
Jones Day energy partner Jason Lief, tax partners Todd Wallace and Karen Currie, and IP partner Joe Beauchamp are leading a team from the firm advising Findlay, Ohio–based Marathon on the joint venture with Enbridge. The firm advised Marathon last year on its $2.5 billion buy of a Texas refinery an infrastructure assets from British oil giant BP, according to our previous reports.
Vinson & Elkins, which took the lead for BP on that deal, is advising Calgary-based Enbridge in connection with the Marathon agreement. M&A partner W. Creighton Smith and tax partner L. Price Manford are leading a team from the firm working on the matter that includes Vinson associates Alan Alexander, Shamus Crosby, Robert Jacobson, Atma Kabad and Elizabeth Radack.
David Robottom, a former CEO of Canadian firm Fraser Milner Casgrain, which after a three-way merger became Dentons earlier this year, serves as Enbridge’s chief legal officer. James Blanchard, a former Michigan governor and chairman emeritus of the government affairs practice at DLA Piper, is an independent member of Enbridge’s board of directors.
U.S. Senate lobbying records show that Enbridge employs a robust roster of lobbyists to advocate on its behalf in Washington, D.C., with Williams & Jensen receiving $180,000 for its work through the third quarter of this year. The company is one of North America’s major transporters of crude oil and liquids.
Marathon employs its own array of lobbyists, with Troutman Sanders receiving $20,000 since being hired by the company earlier this year, according to Senate filings. Marathon, whose general counsel is J. Michael Wilder, was spun off from Marathon Oil in 2011, according to our previous reports.
Former U.S. Treasury Secretary John Snow, who holds a law degree, is an independent member of Marathon’s board, as is former U.S. senator and two-term Indiana governor Evan Bayh, who in January 2011 became a Washington, D.C.–based partner at McGuireWoods.
As part of its deal with Enbridge, Marathon has agreed to fund 37.5 percent of the Sandpiper pipeline project. The 610-mile pipeline is part of Enbridge’s Light Oil Market Access (LOMA) program, which seeks to integrate several oil and gas holdings in western Canada and North Dakota with markets in eastern Canada and the midwestern U.S. (The American Lawyer reported this month on Dentons’ battle on behalf of Enbridge to build another pipeline from Alberta’s lucrative oil sands to the Pacific Ocean.)
The LOMA project is considered a competitor to Calgary-based TransCanada Corp.’s controversial $7 billion Keystone XL pipeline, which has been plagued by political wrangling over global warming concerns. Bryan Cave ceased its Keystone XL lobbying work for TransCanada earlier this year, according to sibling publication The Blog of Legal Times, although other firms like Perkins Coie handle work related to other pipeline projects for the company.
TransCanada inked a $300 million joint venture deal in August with Canada's Irving Oil to build a pipeline connecting its western provinces with terminals in the country's east. McDermott Will & Emery and Canadian firms Bennett Jones and McInnes Cooper advised Irving Oil on that agreement.