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Is Line 9 destined to become a tar sands export pipeline after all?

The Portland Press Herald reports that a pipeline that runs from Portland Maine to Montreal may be targeted for reversal, allowing it to connect to Line 9 which runs from Sarnia to Montreal and thereby export diluted bitumen from the Alberta tar sands by supertanker to overseas ports. This possible routing was proposed several years ago but Enbridge stopped talking about the possibility of using Line 9 as an export pipeline in the face of opposition- preferring to market Line 9 as a supply pipeline for Montreal refineries.  Now, the owners of the Portland-Montreal pipeline are suing the city of South Portland to quash a local ordinance forbidding the use of their port to export oil. The ordinance was passed last year.    

From the article:

“In the lawsuit, the company – which is joined in challenging the ordinance by a trade association representing tug, towboat and barge operators – alleges that the ordinance interferes with interstate trade, discriminates against Canadian interests, devalues the pipeline and infringes on areas best left to the federal government.

The article continues…. “Portland Pipe Line had insisted through much of the process that it had no contracts and no plans to reverse the flow of the pipeline. …. But the suit’s filing comes against a backdrop of changes in energy markets that are threatening the viability of the South Portland-Montreal pipeline. Those changes have led to steep declines in the volume of crude oil pumped through the pipeline.

The drop in volume could accelerate this year when a project is completed to reverse an existing Canadian pipeline and pump oil from fields in western Canada to refineries in Ontario and Quebec. That means those refineries would no longer need the oil pumped to Canada from Maine.

Reversing the flow of the South Portland-Montreal pipeline to ship western Canada crude for export through Portland Harbor is the most likely way for the pipeline to remain viable, petroleum industry analyst John Auers told the Press Herald in September.”

Council of Canadians chapters have been campaigning against the reversal of Line 9 for several years. You can read more here: http://canadians.org/blog/neb-approves-line-9-chapters-fight-back