WASHINGTON, D.C. – Sen. John Hoeven said TransCanada Corp.’s announcement today that it has concluded a successful binding “open season” for its new Bakken Marketlink pipeline project in eastern Montana means significantly more transport capacity for North Dakota producers in the Williston Basin, and reduced reliance on foreign oil imports. The new onramp, which will be part of the company’s international Keystone XL system, will carry petroleum from Baker, Montana to Cushing, Oklahoma and points south to the Gulf of Mexico.

“We’re pleased TransCanada was able to secure commitments for the pipeline, which will not only provide an alternative method to get their product to market, but also encourage more North Dakota production,” Hoeven said. “This is a big step forward for the company and the state of North Dakota, helping to create jobs and increase the domestic production of oil.”

As Governor, Hoeven worked with Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer and company officials to ensure that North Dakota and Montana producers would have access to the system. The governors met in March 2010 in Billings with company officials and petroleum industry leaders to secure an on-ramp for local producers. Hoeven at the time cited a 2009 North Dakota Pipeline Authority study that demonstrated the viability of a new regional pipeline.

That meeting resulted in a company announcement in September that they would launch an open season to assess producer demand. Today, TransCanada announced it has secured firm contracts with area producers to ship 65,000 barrels a day of crude oil on the system.

These agreements with producers “are a clear indication of producer support for the first direct link between the prolific Bakken crude oil producing region in the Williston Basin and key U.S. markets near Cushing, Oklahoma and the U.S. Gulf Coast,” said Russ Girling, TransCanada’s president and CEO.

TransCanada continues to work toward obtaining the necessary permits for the larger Keystone XL project, which will carry crude from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. Company officials say it will reduce the nation’s dependence on crude oil from Venezuela and the Middle East by up to 40 percent, create 20,000 jobs for American workers and inject $20 billion into the U.S. economy.