Enbridge announced plans Monday to invest $7 billion in its petroleum mainline system running from Edmonton, Alberta to Superior, Wis.
Line 3 is a 1,031 mile, 34-inch diameter pipeline that has been in operation since 1968. A final route has yet to be determined, said Twin Ports-based Enbridge Senior Manager, U.S. Public Affairs Liquids Operations and Projects Lorraine Little. There is an existing Line 3 corridor but company executives also are weighing the benefits of another routing option. The final pipeline route selected could, but will not necessarily, pass through Itasca County.
The program is targeted for completion by the second half of 2017. Companies that transport oil through the pipeline have agreed to support surcharges to provide an appropriate return on the additional capital required.
All segments of the line between Hardisty and Superior will be replaced with new pipe featuring high-strength steel and coating technology, Enbridge said in its announcement. Long-term integrity costs to maintain the line will be substantially reduced and the reliability of service will be enhanced, according to the partnership.
“The Line 3 Replacement Program is an important project for our customers and for Enbridge and aligns very well with our strategic priorities,” said Al Monaco, president and CEO of Enbridge Inc. “We work closely with our customers to understand their needs now and into the future; the L3R program will provide high reliability and flexibility to accommodate the level of throughput we expect they will require. The increased reliability of throughput on our system will provide our customers with assured service to key markets.”
The program will be the largest project in the company’s history and may help explain the massive Enbridge staff expansion in Duluth and Superior.
Regulatory applications will be submitted late this year. Further information on the project will be shared with the public in the near future through mailouts and public meetings.
The U.S. portion of the project, from Neche, N.D. to Superior, is estimated to cost approximately $2.6 billion. It will result in the elimination of $1.1 billion of Line 3 integrity capital, which would otherwise be required by 2017, as well as elimination of additional post-2017 integrity capital.
“In the long run, it is the most efficient way to maintain the line,” said Guy Jarvis, president, Liquids Pipelines for Enbridge. “It also improves the reliability of the system, with less down time for inspections and repairs and more operating flexibility. The IJT surcharge structure for the program is designed to provide Enbridge with a solid return on its incremental investment.”