Minnesota regulators have unanimously approved Enbridge Inc.’s request to replace 10 miles of its Line 4 oil pipeline, part of its controversial 330-mile Line 3 replacement that could bring more Canadian crude into the Lower 48.

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) last week  approved the Line 4 route permit.

Enbridge spokesperson Michael Barnes told NGI's Shale Daily the PUC approval is a "great step forward" to improve the route through the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Reservation. The Calgary-based operator is "working cooperatively" with Native American leaders to relocate and replace the above-ground oil pipeline segment to make the area more accessible.

"Enbridge has safely operated pipelines on the Fond du Lac Reservation for nearly 70 years and looks forward to continuing engagement that supports the ongoing safe operation of the Enbridge Mainline System,” Barnes said.

The Fond du Lac Band is supportive of the Line 4 project, but it has joined other Native American communities in opposing Enbridge’s Line 3 replacement. The Enbridge system includes six oil pipelines that run through parts of a corridor in northern Minnesota.

The PUC last June ordered additional environmental review for Line 3, raising concerns about further delays in the project. Michigan also is opposed to some of the oil pipeline replacement plans.