By September 26, 2017 Read More →

Public hearings for Enbridge’s Line 3 upgrade begin in Minnesota

Line 3

Opponents argue that in Minnesota, Enbridge is not just upgrading its Line 3 pipeline, it is actually building a new pipeline because of the change to the line’s route.  Enbridge image. 

Line 3 runs from Hardisty, Alberta to Superior, Wisconsin

Enbridge will begin regulatory hearings for its Line 3 pipeline upgrade with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission on Tuesday.

The commission will hear from landowners, aboriginals and environmentalists, many of whom stand in opposition to the C$8.2 billion project that runs from Hardisty, Alberta to Superior Wisconsin.

While the hearings are scheduled to wrap up in mid-November, the commission’s decision on Enbridge replacing the aging Line 3 pipeline will not be released until April of next year.

The project is the largest for Enbridge, North America’s top pipeline operator.  It will double the capacity of the line which was built in the 1960’s and has been running well below capacity.  Upon project completion, Line 3 will deliver 760,000 barrels per day of Canadian crude to the US market.

In the US, the bulk of the pipeline travels through Minnesota.  Should the state not grant permission, work would be stopped in the state, but the company can appeal and the current pipeline would remain operational.

Work has already begun on the project in Canada and Wisconsin, where all approvals have been granted.

“We are eager for the hearings to get under way and the facts to be presented. This will be a detailed process, which will show the need for the replacement project,” Michael Barnes told Reuters.

Enbridge may be in for a battle.  Earlier this month, the Minnesota Department of Commerce opposed the upgrade.  It argues that refineries in the state and the upper US Midwest “are not short of physical supplies of crude oil, and that they have little room to increase total crude runs.”

Aboriginal groups and environmentalists say potential leaks and the projects’s contributions to climate change concern them.  The add that some of the current route will be changed, making it more a new pipeline than a replacement project for an aging one.

Landlocked Canadian crude producers are looking to the project to supply additional pipeline capacity that would help them realize higher prices for their oil.

Enbridge says regulatory delays have boosted the price of the Line 3 expansion project by 9 per cent over its previous forecast.


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