Our history

On April 30, 1949, Interprovincial Pipe Line Company was officially incorporated – receiving its charter from the Canadian federal government, and launching a success story that spans generations.

Originally envisioned as a pipeline to carry Alberta crude to refineries in Regina, following the Leduc No. 1 discovery, the scope of our system expanded across the Canadian prairies and into the United States Midwest even before the first shovel touched the ground. Construction of the original pipeline from Edmonton, Alberta to Superior, Wisconsin began in the winter of 1949-50, continued through a very wet spring of 1950, and wrapped up by late 1950 at a cost of $73-million. On Oct. 4, 1950, Alberta Premier Ernest Manning and Canadian federal minister C.D. Howe opened the valve on IPL’s inaugural line to start moving oil eastward; the first oil arrived in Superior two months later, on Dec. 5, where it was stored in the Superior terminal tanks.

Our work was pivotal in spurring the growth of Western Canadian oil production. In our first full year of pipeline operations, we shipped 30.6 million barrels of oil. Today we transport an average of 2.8 million barrels of oil every day. Through the years, we’ve continued to open new markets for Canadian crude, and played a critical role in developing North American energy infrastructure.

On Feb. 27, 2017, Enbridge Inc. and Spectra Energy Corp. finalized the terms of a definitive merger agreement. The transaction created the largest energy infrastructure company in North America, and one of the largest in the world—with an enterprise value of approximately US$126 billion (C$166 billion), a US$58 billion (C$75 billion) inventory of secured and potential capital growth projects, and anticipated annual dividend growth of 10 percent through 2020. 

Here are some other significant moments in Enbridge’s 65-year history:

  • Expansion of the IPL system continued in 1953 with the extension of the pipeline from Superior to Sarnia, Ont. The line entered service in 1954, a development that provided a direct connection between the Alberta oil fields and Canada’s petro-chemical heartland in Ontario.
  • IPL’s mainline system continued to expand and grow through the 1950s and 1960s. IPL and its American subsidiary, Lakehead Pipe Line Company, connected to the Detroit market for the first time in 1960, expanded the system to Buffalo in 1963, and constructed the Chicago loop in 1968. IPL became North America’s largest crude oil carrier on a barrel-mile basis in 1963, and IPL’s average deliveries topped the one-million-barrels-per-day mark in 1972.
  • With the Canadian federal government seeking to ensure Canadian energy self-reliance in the mid-1970s – and then-Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau speaking publicly in favour of a pipeline to Montreal – IPL completed Line 9 to Montreal through poor market conditions, labour shortages, and a brutally cold ’75-76 winter construction season. After consultation with 2,200 landowners and 95 municipalities, governments, and agencies, and an investment of $247-million, the first oil was delivered to Montreal on June 2, 1976.
  • IPL completed its Norman Wells pipeline in April 1985, linking the oilfields of Norman Wells, Northwest Territories to the Rainbow Pipeline system at Zama, Alberta.
  • IPL acquired Toronto-based Home Oil in July 1986, and relocated corporate offices to Alberta – the pipeline business in Edmonton, the oil business in Calgary.
  • IPL changed its name to Interhome Energy Inc. in 1988, and in 1991 Interhome shareholders voted to create two separate companies—New Home Oil Company Ltd., a distinct publicly traded company; and Interprovincial Pipe Line Inc., consisting of wholly owned subsidiaries Lakehead Pipe Line Company Inc. and Interprovincial Pipeline (NW) Ltd. In 1994, the company again changed its name to IPL Energy Inc.

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Enbridge's energy infrastructure growth projects

Find out more about our growth projects—including crude oil and liquids pipelines, renewables, and natural gas pipelines and processing—that will help keep North Americans on the move.

  • In December 1996, in a very significant move, IPL Energy acquired Consumers’ Gas, Canada’s largest natural gas distribution system that served, at that time, more than one million customers in Ontario, Quebec, and New York. The roots of what is now known as Enbridge Gas Distribution stretch all the way back to 1848.
  • On Oct. 7, 1998, IPL Energy officially became Enbridge, the name that combines “energy” with “bridge” and endures to this day. Enbridge built the Athabasca Pipeline in 1999, connecting Alberta’s oil sands to its mainline system at Hardisty, Alberta. Today, Enbridge is the leading pipeline operator in the Fort McMurray to Edmonton and Hardisty corridors, with 12 oil sands projects connected to the Enbridge system as of March 2014.
  • Also in 1999, Enbridge was awarded the exclusive franchise to develop and operate a natural gas distribution network for the province of New Brunswick.
  • In the early 2000s, Enbridge expanded its international interests, with transportation and storage projects in Spain and Colombia. Enbridge would sell its stake in those businesses in 2008 and 2009, respectively, but Enbridge International Inc. still actively explores new investment opportunities outside Canada and the U.S.
  • On Oct. 30, 2001, Enbridge’s shares were first listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the trading symbol ENB.
  • Enbridge invested in the SunBridge wind power project in Saskatchewan in 2002, beginning its portfolio in renewable energy investment that now tops $3-billion, includes 12 wind farms, four solar energy operations, and a geothermal project, and represents more than 1,800 MW of green power capacity.
  • Enbridge completed the acquisition of Houston’s Midcoast Energy Resources in 2001 – giving the company an expanded presence in the natural gas transmission business, and significantly widening its geographical presence in North America.
  • In 2005, Enbridge acquired Shell Gas Transmission, which included ownership interests in 11 natural gas transmission and gas gathering pipelines in five major offshore Gulf of Mexico corridors.

Through both acquisition and greenfield development, we’ve expanded well beyond our original business as a crude oil carrier.

Our gas transportation systems in Western Canada and Texas gather and ship billions of cubic feet of natural gas each day. Enbridge Gas Distribution, Canada’s largest natural gas distribution company, delivers more than 400 billion cubic feet of natural gas to more than two million customers each year.

We’ve also delivered value. Since shares of Enbridge and its predecessor companies began trading more than 50 years ago, our shareholders have enjoyed an average 13.5 per cent annual return.

Just as we were in 1949, Enbridge remains a company that looks beyond the horizon to chart a course for success. Through our investment in renewable energy technologies, such as onshore and offshore wind farms, solar operations, a geothermal project, and waste heat recapture technology, we are committed to safely, reliably, and sustainably delivering the energy North America counts on to power our society and the economy.