Enbridge Inc. set a second half 2019 target for completing the replacement of its aging Line 3 oil export pipeline after winning a hotly contested approval on Thursday from the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission.
The construction budget survived “materially unchanged” at C$5.3 billion in Canada and US$2.9 billion in the United States because the commission only ordered minor modifications to the preferred route, Enbridge said.
Replacing the line’s 50-year-old pipe will restore deliveries to the original level of 760,000 b/d, after running at about half capacity since 2010 due to safety restrictions.
Construction is well advanced everywhere along the 1,660-kilometer (1,031-mile) route across western Canada and the northern U.S. except in Minnesota, where the project aroused a storm of native and environmental protest. The approval triggered immediate threats of lawsuits and protest demonstrations.
The Line 3 replacement is a 370,000 b/d gain in export capacity for the widely vilified Alberta oilsands, where thermal extraction projects stand out as Canada’s biggest and fastest-growing natural gas user.
“Replacing Line 3 is first and foremost about the safety and integrity of this critical energy infrastructure,” Enbridge president Al Monaco said. “This project will also help ensure Minnesota and area refineries reliably receive the crude oil supply they need for the benefit of all Minnesotans and the surrounding region.”