Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Enbridge to Double Carrying Capacity of Line 3 Tar Sands Pipeline

Energy

By Heather Libby

In its largest capital project in history, Enbridge plans to do what Transcanada so far can't—ship more than half a million barrels of heavy oil across the U.S. border without President Barack Obama's direct approval.

Graphic courtesy of Enbridge

Late Monday evening, Enbridge announced plans for its largest capital project in history— a $7 billion replacement of its Line 3 pipeline.

The existing Line 3 pipeline is part of Enbridge’s extensive Mainline system. The 34-inch pipe was installed in 1968 and currently carries light oil 1,660 km from Edmonton, Alberta, to Superior, WI. 

While the Line 3 pipeline currently has a maximum shipping capacity of 390,000 barrels of light crude oil per day, pumping stations along the line have a much larger capacity (and can accommodate heavier oils). Enbridge plans to take advantage of this. Under the company's replacement plans, the new Line 3 pipeline will be widened by two inches, and built "using the latest available high-strength steel and coating technology." By the time it goes into service in 2017, Line 3 will ship 760,000 barrels of oil across the border every day, nearly double what it currently moves. 

At the same time, the new Line 3 will be designated as "mixed service," allowing it to carry a variety of different types of oil from heavy to light. Speaking on a conference call with investors and media this morning, Enbridge CEO Al Monaco said “my lean would be more towards the heavier side, but it will carry both."

Line 3 will continue to operate at full current capacity during the construction period. All construction is expected to occur within the existing pipeline corridor.

Graphic courtesy of Enbridge

No Presidential Permit Required (Because it Already Has One)

Unlike the Keystone XL pipeline or its predecessor Line 67 (also known by its more jovial name "Alberta Clipper"), this project is classified as "replacement" or "maintenance," meaning it operates under an existing presidential permit and does not require a new one. Enbridge proponents made a point of repeatedly affirming this during Tuesday's call with investors and media. 

Construction will be managed by two separate companies. The Edmonton to Hardisty segment and the Hardisty, Alberta, to Gretna, Manitoba, segments will be managed by Enbridge’s wholly-owned Canadian subsidiary, Enbridge Pipelines Inc. Enbridge Energy Partners, L.P. will take responsibility for approvals and construction of the segment between Neche, ND, and Superior, WI.

Notably, both projects omit discussion of the tiny—but crucial—three km pipeline segment that crosses the Canada/U.S. border and links Gretna, Manitoba, to Neche, ND. On the U.S. webpage for the Line 3 project, Enbridge states:

Segments of Line 3 from the Canadian border to Neche, ND, and near the Minnesota/Wisconsin border to the Superior terminal are being replaced under separate segment replacement projects.

The Canadian webpage has a similar message.

At the moment, it is not clear what those replacement projects are, or what stage of approval they are in. Enbridge did not return a call to clarify details.

Two Keystone XL Pipelines Per Day

With its announcement, the Line 3 replacement joins three other large-scale expansion projects by Enbridge in varying stages of development or approval. 

  • Northern Gateway pipeline connecting Edmonton with Kitimat, B.C., is a 525,000 barrels per day pipeline has received a positive recommendation from the National Energy Board and will see a decision from the federal cabinet in the next three months.  
  • Within the next few weeks, a decision is expected on the proposed reversal of Ontario and Quebec’s Line 9B pipeline. Currently the pipeline ships oil received via tankers from a Montreal terminal to Sarnia, Ontario. If approved, the reversed pipeline would ship 300,000 barrel per day of Canadian-sourced oil from Sarnia to Montreal for international export. 
  • Enbridge has already completed Phase 1 of its planned expansion to the Alberta Clipper pipeline, increasing its capacity from 450,000  to 570,000 barrels per day. On Feb. 10, Canada’s National Energy Board approved Phase 2 of the pipeline expansion, allowing it to ship at its maximum capacity of 800,000 barrels per day. Approval of the project on the U.S. side is currently delayed while the State Department updates its environmental regulations. 
  • Applications for the Line 3 replacement project will be filed in late 2014.

Should all four of these projects go ahead, they will collectively increase Enbridge’s daily shipping volume by approximately 1.5 million barrels per day, or the equivalent of nearly two Keystone XL pipelines. The Keystone XL pipeline is expected to transport 830,000 bpd.

Addendum: Here's the math behind the projected Enbridge shipping volume. 

Current Shipping Volumes: (BPD)

  • Line 9: 0 (its current 240,000 barrel per day capacity does not include Canadian-sourced oil, and flows in the opposite direction)
  • Northern Gateway: 0
  • Line 3: 390,000
  • Alberta Clipper: 450,000
  • TOTAL: 840,000 barrels per day

Future Shipping Volumes (BPD):

  • Line 9: 300,000
  • Northern Gateway: 525,000
  • Line 3: 760,000
  • Alberta Clipper: 800,000
  • TOTAL: 2, 385,000 barrels per day

For a difference of 1,545,000 barrels per day or the equivalent of 1.86 Keystone XLs.

Visit EcoWatch’s PIPELINES and TAR SANDS pages for more related news on this topic.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Moroccan patients who recovered from the novel coronavirus disease celebrate with medical staff as they leave the hospital in Sale, Morocco, on April 3, 2020. AFP / Getty Images

By Tom Duszynski

The coronavirus is certainly scary, but despite the constant reporting on total cases and a climbing death toll, the reality is that the vast majority of people who come down with COVID-19 survive it. Just as the number of cases grows, so does another number: those who have recovered.

In mid-March, the number of patients in the U.S. who had officially recovered from the virus was close to zero. That number is now in the tens of thousands and is climbing every day. But recovering from COVID-19 is more complicated than simply feeling better. Recovery involves biology, epidemiology and a little bit of bureaucracy too.

Read More Show Less
Reef scene with crinoid and fish in the Great Barrier Reef, Australia. Reinhard Dirscherl / ullstein bild / Getty Images

By Elizabeth Claire Alberts

The future for the world's oceans often looks grim. Fisheries are set to collapse by 2048, according to one study, and 8 million tons of plastic pollute the ocean every year, causing considerable damage to delicate marine ecosystems. Yet a new study in Nature offers an alternative, and more optimistic view on the ocean's future: it asserts that the entire marine environment could be substantially rebuilt by 2050, if humanity is able to step up to the challenge.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
A daughter touches her father's head while saying goodbye as medics prepare to transport him to Stamford Hospital on April 02, 2020 in Stamford, Connecticut. He had multiple COVID-19 symptoms. John Moore / Getty Images

Across the country, the novel coronavirus is severely affecting black people at much higher rates than whites, according to data released by several states, as The New York Times reported.

Read More Show Less
Four rolls of sourdough bread are arranged on a surface. Photo by Laura Chase de Formigny and food styling by Lisa Cherkasky for The Washington Post / Getty Images

By Zulfikar Abbany

Bread has been a source of basic nutrition for centuries, the holy trinity being wheat, maize and rice. It has also been the reason for a lot of innovation in science and technology, from millstones to microbiological investigations into a family of single-cell fungi called Saccharomyces.

Read More Show Less

Trending

A coral reef in Egypt's Red Sea. Tropical ocean ecosystems could see sudden biodiversity losses this decade if emissions are not reduced. Georgette Douwma / Stone / Getty Images

The biodiversity loss caused by the climate crisis will be sudden and swift, and could begin before 2030.

Read More Show Less