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Line 3 Pipeline Approaches Completion

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Enbridge’s Line 3 replacement project is nearing completion after successfully defending another legal challenge, when the Minnesota Supreme Court decided it would not hear an appeal from opponents who sought to overturn regulatory approval.

Enbridge CEO Al Monaco said recently the project is expected to begin operating in the fourth quarter. The company filed for tolling surcharges with regulators earlier this month, which could take effect as soon as September 15.

“It’s moving from a theoretical future concept to something that is physical, which has always been the challenge of pipelines,” said Kevin Birn, an analyst with energy consultancy IHS Markit.

“There have been lots of projects in the past, but very few have made it to the finish line,” Birn said, citing Canada’s Trans Mountain Pipeline replacement project as another that has survived court challenges.

Canadian projects which haven’t fared as well include Northern Gateway, Energy East and Keystone XL.

Energy minister Sonya Savage, who worked at Enbridge nearly seven years ago when the company initially submitted the project to Canadian regulators, said it’s taken a long time to get Line 3 this close to completion.

“For producers, that is significant. It helps clear any bottlenecks and should improve apportionment on the Enbridge mainline,” Savage said.

The project replaces pipe from Alberta to Superior, Wisconsin, that initially went into service in the 1960s. the project will increase the line’s capacity to 760,000 bpd from about 390,000 bpd.

Calgary-based Enbridge initially filed its Line 3 project application with the National Energy Board (now known as the Canada Energy Regulator) in 2014. The project got a green light from prime minister Justin Trudeau in November 2016, when it was slated for completion by 2019.

The $5.3 billion Canadian segment of the project was finished nearly two years ago. But its $4 billion segment has faced stronger opposition, primarily in Minnesota, from environmental groups and some Indigenous communities.

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