Minnesota regulator orders revised environmental impact statement for Enbridge Line 3

According to a report on Reuters, the Minnesota Department of Commerce (DOC) has been asked by the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission to submit a revised environmental impact statement that includes the potential impact of an oil spill into Lake Superior watershed for Enbridge Inc’s Line 3 pipeline replacement project.

This order came, after a court determined in June 2019, that the previous assessment for Enbridge’s Line 3 project was inadequate.The Minnesota Department of Commerce has 60 days to submit its revised EIS.

According to the Chronicle Herald, this order comes as the Canadian pipeline operator struggles with delays amid on-going disputes with regulators.

Line 3, is a huge part of Enbridge's mainline network that transports western Canadian oil to Midwest refineries. The project, if successful, is expected to double capacity to 760,000 barrels per day, providing much-needed relief from congestion on existing Canadian pipelines and the project is expected to be in service by the second half of 2020 but many participants in the oil industry participants are concerned that the project will be stalled beyond that.

The article also reports that Enbridge was recently ordered to stop its mainline overhaul plan due to the "perception of abuse of Enbridge's market power" by the Canadian Energy Regulator.

Meanwhile, on the company’s official website, the pipeline operator reports that construction of the $5.3-billion Canadian portion of the Line 3 Replacement Program is nearing completion; the company say they plan to bring the pipeline into service in December 2019.

They however admit, that the project has been delayed in Minnesota, “Meanwhile, we continue to await final permitting before construction can begin in Minnesota, to enable completion of the US$2.9-billion American portion of the project.”

Progessreport on the line 3 replacement program as of October 2019, according to the company website include:

  • Successful installation of all of the pipe in the ground along the 1,070-kilometer Canadian right-of-way (Hardisty, Alberta to Gretna, Manitoba);
  • The installation of 55 new remotely operated valves is complete;
  • Facilities work (18 new pump stations and associated infrastructure, as well as three new oil storage tanks at the Hardisty Terminal with capacity of approximately 150,000 cubic metres is complete);
  • Right-of-way reclamation is essentially complete in most of the nine construction spreads, with the majority of remaining work in spreads 5 and 6 (southeast of Regina to Cromer, Manitoba). Weather permitting; we anticipate reclamation to be complete by the end of 2019.

The company appears to be positive about getting approval to commence work soon on the Minnesota project,“Enbridge expects to have certification for all remaining Minnesota permits required for construction by November 2019 (with remaining federal permits expected to be finalized in the ensuing 30 to 60 days), after the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (MPUC) approved the Line 3 Replacement Project on June 28, 2018. Construction in Minnesota and North Dakota will begin concurrently, upon receipt of all permits and approvals; the remaining American portion of the project is expected to enter service in the later half of 2020.”


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