Enbridge $350M Into Natural Gas Joint Venture

Enbridge $350M Into Natural Gas Joint Venture
Logo of Enbridge Inc. a multinational pipeline company headquartered in Calgary, Alberta. It focuses on the transportation of crude oil and natural gas, primarily in North America. On Monday, 9 August 2021, in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Artur Widak/NurPhoto)NO USE FRANCE

Enbridge Inc., along with WhiteWater/I Squared Capital and MPLX LP, unveiled plans on Tuesday to forge a formidable alliance, pooling resources to foster the development, construction, ownership, and operation of natural gas pipelines and storage assets. These assets will facilitate the seamless connection of the Permian Basin’s natural gas supply to burgeoning liquefied natural gas (LNG) export markets.

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Enbridge $350M Into Natural Gas Joint Venture : Venture Details

The joint venture encompasses several key assets, including a 100% interest in the Whistler pipeline, responsible for transporting natural gas from the Waha Header in the Permian Basin to Agua Dulce, Texas. Additionally, it involves a 100% interest in the Rio Bravo pipeline project, spanning approximately 137 miles and facilitating the transportation of natural gas from the Agua Dulce supply area to NextDecade’s Rio Grande LNG project in Brownsville, Texas. Furthermore, the venture boasts a 70% stake in the ADCC pipeline, a proposed intrastate pipeline stretching around 40 miles, and a 50% interest in Waha Gas Storage, a vital gas storage cavern facility.

Strategic Investments

In a strategic move, Enbridge commits a substantial $350 million cash injection into the joint venture and pledges its Rio Bravo pipeline project. Moreover, the company undertakes to finance the initial $150 million of post-closing capital expenditures required to finalize the Rio Bravo pipeline project.

Enbridge $350M Into Natural Gas Joint Venture : Ownership Structure

Upon closure of the deal, WhiteWater/I Squared will emerge as the majority stakeholder, claiming a commanding 50.6% share of the joint venture. MPLX will follow suit with a 30.4% ownership stake, while Enbridge will retain a 19% share, in addition to a 25% economic interest in the Rio Bravo project pipeline.

Optimized Investment Capacity

Pat Murray, Enbridge’s executive vice president and CFO, underscores the transaction’s role in optimizing investment capacity and enhancing capital efficiency. Murray highlights the immediate cash flow benefits and future growth prospects inherent in the partnership, emphasizing the bolstered medium-term growth outlook and the deal’s positive impact on Enbridge’s balance sheet.

Enbridge $350M Into Natural Gas Joint Venture : Operational Continuity

Following the deal’s closure, WhiteWater, bolstered by infrastructure investment manager I Squared, will assume responsibility for operating the joint venture’s assets.

Customer Benefits

The joint venture is poised to deliver substantial benefits to customers by bridging Permian supply to burgeoning LNG export markets, leveraging Rio Bravo’s connectivity with NextDecade’s Rio Grande LNG facility.

Strategic Positioning

Dave Heppner, senior vice president of MPLX, underscores the strategic importance of the deal, emphasizing its alignment with MPLX’s wellhead-to-water growth strategy and its enhancement of the natural gas value chain in the Permian Basin and South Texas.

Enbridge $350M Into Natural Gas Joint Venture : Anticipated Closure

The deal is slated to conclude in the second quarter of the year, pending receipt of requisite regulatory approvals and fulfillment of customary closing conditions.

Controversial Context

It’s worth noting that the Rio Bravo project, pivotal in connecting to the Rio Grande LNG site in Texas, has been mired in controversy. Environmental and local community groups have vehemently opposed the project’s reapproval by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), citing inadequacies in analyzing greenhouse gas emissions and environmental justice impacts.

Enbridge $350M Into Natural Gas Joint Venture : Legal Representation

ISQ Holdings, a portfolio company of WhiteWater Midstream and I Squared Capital, received legal counsel from Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP. The legal team, led by mergers and acquisitions partners Shamus Crosby, Katy Lukaszewski, and Breen Haire, along with tax partner Adam Arikat and antitrust partners Peter Guryan and Étienne Renaudeau, navigated the complexities of the transaction.