Line 3 Pipeline Approaches Completion after Court Ruling

(P&GJ) — Enbridge's Line 3 replacement project is nearing completion after successfully defending another legal challenge last week, when the Minnesota Supreme Court decided it would not hear an appeal from opponents who sought to overturn regulatory approval.

Enbridge CEO Al Monaco said recently the project is expected to begin operating in the fourth quarter. The company filed for tolling surcharges with regulators earlier this month, which could take effect as soon as Sept. 15, Bloomberg News reported.

“It’s moving from a theoretical future concept to something that is physical, which has always been the challenge of pipelines,” Kevin Birn, an analyst with energy consultancy IHS Markit, told the Calgary Herald newspaper on Friday.

“There have been lots of projects in the past, but very few have made it to the finish line,” Birn said, citing Canada's Trans Mountain Pipeline replacement project as another that has survived court challenges.

Canadian projects which haven't fared as well include Northern Gateway, Energy East and Keystone XL.

Energy Minister Sonya Savage, who worked at Enbridge nearly seven years ago when the company initially submitted the project to Canadian regulators, told the Calgary Herald it’s taken a long time to get Line 3 this close to completion.

“For producers, that is significant. It helps clear any bottlenecks and should improve apportionment on the Enbridge mainline,” Savage said Friday.

The project replaces pipe from Alberta to Superior, Wisconsin, that initially went into service in the 1960s. the project will increase the line’s capacity to 760,000 bpd from about 390,000 bpd.

Calgary-based Enbridge initially filed its Line 3 project application with the National Energy Board (now known as the Canada Energy Regulator) in 2014. The project got a green light from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in November 2016, when it was slated for completion by 2019.

The $5.3 billion Canadian segment of the project was finished nearly two years ago. But its US$4 billion segment has faced stronger opposition, primarily in Minnesota, from environmental groups and some Indigenous communities.

Construction began in Minnesota last December, but protests have continued.  Last Tuesday's court ruling extended a winning streak for Enbridge.

“The most studied pipeline project in Minnesota history has cleared yet another hurdle,” Enbridge spokesperson Tracy Larsson said in a statement. 

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