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Minnesota’s Public Utilities Commission voted unanimously on Thursday to reject petitions by environmental and indigenous groups to review its decision to grant a certificate of need for the Line 3 oil pipeline replacement project.
The ‘Stop Line 3’ campaign will now move to challenge the project in courts.
Environmental and tribal groups oppose the Line 3 replacement project, saying that the route passes near water resources and the pipeline carries tar sands, while Enbridge says that the pipeline is old and needs to be replaced.
The Line 3 Replacement Program is planned to fully replace 1,031 miles of Line 3 with new pipeline and associated facilities on either side of the Canada-U.S. international border. The U.S. portion of the program is from Neche, North Dakota, through Minnesota, to Superior, Wisconsin. The pipeline project envisages higher capacity and changes in routing in some parts, prompting opponents of the plan to argue that the replacement project is more like a new pipeline plan.
At the end of the second quarter of 2018, the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission approved the proposed replacement of Enbridge’s Line 3 pipeline despite the vocal environmentalist opposition.
Enbridge expects to receive permits from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, state agencies, and local governments in Minnesota in time to begin construction in the first quarter of 2019, and continues to anticipate an in-service date for the project in the second half of 2019, the company said in August.
Earlier this week, Enbridge said in its updated strategic outlook that the completion of the Line 3 replacement project will create 370,000 bpd of capacity late in 2019.
This capacity is the earliest possible pipeline takeaway capacity for Canada’s oil industry, which has been suffering severe discounts of Canadian heavy oil due to bottlenecks. Earlier this month, Alberta moved to enact an 8.7-percent crude oil production cut to clear excess stockpiles as pipeline constraints plunged the selling price of Western Canadian grades to deep discounts against WTI.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.