Enbridge Inc. and Enbridge Energy Partners have received shipper support for a $7-billion investment in their Canadian and US mainline system running from Edmonton, Alberta to Superior, Wisconsin. The $7-billion Line 3 Replacement (L3R) Program is the largest project in Enbridge history, and includes replacing an existing pipeline with modern pipe materials utilizing modern construction methods, resulting in restoration of one of Enbridge’s primary pipelines along its Mainline crude oil system.
Under the Line 3 Replacement Program, the majority of the existing Line 3 pipeline—which has been in service since 1968—will be fully replaced with new pipeline and associated facilities on either side of the Canada-U.S. international border. The total length of the pipeline replacement is 1,031 miles (1,660 km). L3R has both a Canadian and a US component:
On the Canadian side of the border, Enbridge Pipelines Inc. plans to undertake an approximately $4.2-billion replacement program for its Line 3 pipeline running between Enbridge’s existing Hardisty Terminal in east-central Alberta and Gretna, Manitoba.
In the US, Enbridge Energy Partners L.P. will undertake an approximately US$2.6-billion replacement program for its Line 3 pipeline running between Neche, North Dakota, and Enbridge’s existing Superior Station and Terminal Facility in Superior, Wisconsin.
|Map of the Canadian portion of the project. Source: Enbridge. Click to enlarge.|
As part of the Line 3 Replacement Program, the existing Line 3 pipeline will be decommissioned. Decommissioning refers to the permanent cessation of operation, such that the cessation does not result in the discontinuance of service to end-users.
In general terms, the process of decommissioning a pipeline involves: removing the oil from the pipeline segment; flushing the line with cleaning agents; physically disconnecting the line; cutting and capping it where required; continuing to monitor it; and leaving it in place to avoid disturbing farmlands, neighborhoods, roadways, wetlands, and green spaces with major construction activities.
The L3R Program is targeted to be completed by the second half of 2017. Mainline shippers have agreed to support surcharges on all barrels moving on the mainline to provide an appropriate return on the additional capital required. It will be subject to customary regulatory approvals.
Initial development work is underway to support the regulatory applications that will be submitted in late 2014. This includes an extensive public consultation process with landowners, Aboriginal and Native American communities, municipalities and counties and other stakeholders along the Line 3 right of way. Further information on the project will be shared with the public in the near future through mailouts and public meetings.