Enbridge makes new concessions in Minnesota as it awaits a final decision on the replacement of Line 3

Enbridge makes new concessions in Minnesota as it awaits a final decision on the replacement of Line 3

Minnesota's Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has begun final hearings into Enbridge's proposal to replace its 50 year old Line 3, which transports crude from Western Canada to refineries located in the Midwest region and into a terminal in Superior, Wisconsin.

Enbridge has made three new commitments to the State of Minnesota:

  1. The company has agreed to purchase renewable energy credits to offset emissions during operation of the pipeline.
  2. Enbridge will set-up a trust fund for decommissioning of old pipelines in the state.
  3. The company will establish a contingency fund to be used in the event of an oil spill.

Line 3 currently runs through two Native American Reservation lands, along with five other Enbridge pipelines. The company had planned to abandon 450 km of pipe within the state, replacing it with 550 km of new pipe, with some sections running parallel to the existing line and other segments rerouted around the reservation lands. 

Last April, a Minnesota judge stated her preference for having the existing line dug up, removed and replaced in kind, which would require an extended shutdown of the existing pipe. Enbridge says it will press ahead with approval for its preferred route, which avoids certain tribal lands and is less disruptive to the environment. The company says 94% of landowners along the "preferred route" right-of-way have already granted easement agreements. The judge's ruling is non-binding but is expected to weigh heavily in the PUC's decision.

About 80% of the crude processed in Minnesota's refineries are supplied by Enbridge, as well as 100% of the feed to refineries in the State of Wisconsin. Replacement of Line 3 would restore capacity to 760,000 bbl/day, adding another 370,000 bbl/day of take-away capacity out of Western Canada. Enbridge's terminal in Superior, Wisconsin also allows for transportation to the Gulf Coast, which is currently facing a dwindling supply of heavy oil.

The PUC will need to issue both a Certificate of Need and a Route Permit for the new Line 3, which is expected on June 26/27, 2018. The company already has its permits in place in Canada, North Dakota and Wisconsin.

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