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The Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation of North Dakota announced on Friday that it purchased the Plaza/Wabek Pipeline from Calgary-based Enbridge Inc. for $5 million. 

The acquisition by the MHA Nation’s Thunder Butte Petroleum Inc. subsidiary will help it deliver oil from wells on its reservation to new markets. The 31-mile pipeline, which is not currently in use, can transport up to 15,000 barrels per day. The reservation has more than 2,600 active oil and gas wells that produced an average of 144,190 barrels of oil per day in February, according to an Associated Press report citing the state's Department of Mineral Resources.

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The agreement opens the door for MHA Nation to become the first tribal shipper on the Enbridge system, according to a statement from the tribe.  

“It’s another major step and positive investment that will further support development of our energy trust assets for the MHA Nation and its membership,” MHA Nation Chairman Mark N. Fox said in a statement. “This will also be a significant catalyst for enhancing economic development in our region of influence.”

Representatives of the MHA Nation, Thunder Butte Petroleum and Enbridge gathered on Friday at the nation’s headquarters in New Town, N.D. to announce the news. The announcement came almost 10 years to the day a decade ago when the MHA Nation broke ground on the $450 million Thunder Butte Petroleum Services Refinery project.

“The Enbridge purchase is a positive step to providing Thunder Butte Petroleum Services an asset that will lead to economic self-sufficiency, and a future revenue source for the MHA Nation,” Thunder Butte Petroleum CEO Bernie Fox said in a statement. 

Royalties from oil and gas development on the Fort Berthold Reservation are managed and dispersed for the benefit of MHA Nation citizens under the direction of its Tribal Business Council.  The MHA Nation, also known as the Three Affiliated Tribes, has more than 17,000 enrolled members.  

This is not the first time Enbridge has partnered with a tribal nation in North America. In September 2022, a group of 23 First Nation and Métis communities acquired a minority stake in seven Enbridge-operated pipelines in northern Alberta. Enbridge said the agreement with Athabasca Indigenous Investments was the energy company’s largest Indigenous economic partnership transaction to date.