Enbridge Line 3 pipeline approval expected to ease Canadian oil price woes

Minnie NorrisJul 02, 2018

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) approved a controversial rebuild of Line 3 of the Enbridge Energy oil pipeline Thursday, as environmental activists and Native American groups vowed to keep fighting, The Associated Press reported.

Shares of Calgary, Alberta-based Enbridge closed up 3.7 percent in Toronto.

"Now that the project has been approved to move forward, we are now calling on Winona and her supporters to close these camps now, before people and communities here in Minnesota are hurt by what will be unlawful and unfortunately violent activities", Schoneberger said in a news release. Commissioners said they would adjust the route if the band doesn't agree.

She stood within sight of equipment that she says Enbridge has already stockpiled in preparation for construction of the segment across Minnesota.

"They have gotten their Standing Rock", she said, referring to protests that drew thousands of people to neighbouring North Dakota to rally against the Dakota Access pipeline. "It feels like a gun to our head". Minnesota regulators appeared ready Thursday to approve Enbridge Energy's proposal to replace its aging Line 3 oil pipeline across northern Minnesota, but still faced a major question of the line's route.

Pipeline bottlenecks have steepened a price discount for Western Canadian heavy crude this year while refiners in Minnesota and surrounding states say Line 3 is necessary to increase crude supplies.

The commission vote was just 3-2, compared to a unanimous vote to approve the certificate of need.

The pipeline company was given 60 days to negotiate a settlement with the Fond Du Lac Band to determine routing on a short piece of the pipeline that crosses its land but will be able to go around if no agreement can be reached. But it allows Enbridge to now apply for 29 other permits it needs to build the pipeline, which would run from Superior, Wisconsin, to Alberta, Canada.

"The Fond du Lac Band is prepared to appeal this decision and we will evaluate our options as we receive the full written decision from the Commission", the band wrote. "The PUC's decision is not the final approval of this pipeline", he said.

The replacement pipeline is to restore Line 3's capacity to 760,000 barrels per day, thus adding 375,000 bpd of export capacity into the United States when it comes on stream in late 2019 or early 2020. "We need permits from the state and the Army Corps (of Engineers)", Jarvis said. He says that process could take until October.

Analysts say the approvals remove a negative overhang on Enbridge's business plan as the project is the largest part of its $22-billion capital growth program over the next two years.

Minnesota Public Utilities Commission chair Nancy Lange, right, gets emotional as she and vice-chair Dan Lipschultz, left, deliberate the Enbridge Line 3 pipeline replacement project during a meeting Thursday, June 28, 2018 at its headquarters in St. Paul.

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