Oil and natural gas transportation company Enbridge will create substantial construction work regionally in coming years, a company spokesperson told the Western Mesabi Mine Planning Board last week.
In an overview of current Minnesota operations, Becky Haase, specialist in stakeholder relations, U.S. public affairs liquids operations and projects, said the company spent $52 million in 2012 on its comprehensive maintenance and integrity program, which includes visual inspections to determine maintenance needs. In addition, Enbridge also pays about $34 million in annual property taxes, she said.
While the company already has a large presence in the region, plans are in place to expand further. Enbridge has three major construction projects in the works and recently announced a fourth.
The Line 67 (Alberta Clipper) project along with its Sandpiper project will carry a combined cost of $2.75 billion.
The Line 67 upgrade Phase 1 project will expand the pipeline’s capacity to 570,000 barrels per day of heavy oil from its current level of 470,000 bpd. Phase II would bring the pipeline to its full design capacity of 800,000 bpd. Pending regulatory approval, Phase I construction would begin in mid-2014 and Phase II would begin in mid-2015.
The company’s Sandpiper project would build a 610-mile interstate pipeline to bring growing supplies of crude oil from North Dakota to refineries in the U.S. and Canada. A 24-inch diameter line would run from Tioga, N.D. to Clearbrook, Minn., and then a 30-inch diameter line would run from Clearbrook to Superior. Permitting for the Sandpiper project is scheduled for completion later this year. Sandpiper’s in-service date is tentatively scheduled for 2016.
Sandpiper will largely (75 percent) follow existing pipeline routes. However, portions of existing line in Itasca County would be bypassed in favor of a southern route option through Park Rapids, if the company’s preferred route is permitted. Haase called this southern corridor “more constructible.”
WMMPB member and LaPrairie Mayor Mike Fall told Haase he is in favor of the alternative Sandpiper route, which would pass through Itasca County.
“We want it here,” he said, asking Haase if writing a letter to Enbridge might lead the company to reconsider.
While Haase was non-committal about what impact a letter might have, she did tell Fall that if he didn’t write the letter his voice would not be heard.
Haase also spoke briefly to the board about the company’s recently announced Line 3 replacement project. Although still in the planning stage, it would replace a line constructed in 1968 that runs across northern Minnesota. In addition, the company is completing construction on two crude oil tanks and piping upgrades at its Superior terminal.
Later in the meeting, Haase asked those in attendance to write letters of support for the company’s projects, which are facing stiff resistance from environmental groups. Several public input meetings for the company’s Line 67 project were scheduled around the region this week.
In other business, the board:
• Tabled a decision on a letter of support grant request from Itasca County and Grand Rapids comprehensive planning research.
• Approved a motion to send a letter to Essar Steel Minnesota requesting land use to a closer area to the company boundary for public use.