Enbridge's proposed 760,000 bpd Line 3 pipeline to Lake Superior

The Line 3 route in Canada
The Line 3 route in Canada

What is the Enbridge Line 3 pipeline?

Bloomberg has reported, "Enbridge is focusing on expanding 'low-cost, incremental' projects like twinning existing pipelines to provide producers with new transportation capacity as they struggle with low crude prices, [Enbridge chief executive officer Al] Monaco told investors last month. The company’s $7.5-billion Line 3 replacement is the largest project."

Sun Media has noted, "Enbridge has several proposals in the works, including the replacement of most of the Line 3 pipeline between the existing Hardisty Terminal and Gretna, MB, consisting of 1,073 kilometers."

Metro News reports, "Despite eclipsing [Northern Gateway and Keystone XL] in size and scale, Enbridge’s Line 3 hasn’t garnered much in the way of public attention. Billed by Enbridge as a replacement project, it’s in fact an expansion project. The old pipeline will be decommissioned and left underground while a new larger pipeline is installed from Hardisty, Atla., to Superior, Wis."

And Manitoba Grand Chief Derek Nepinak explains, "The Enbridge Line 3 project represents Enbridge Pipelines Inc.’s largest project in history. It is a $7.5 billion dollar replacement and expansion that runs from Hardisty, Alberta, across Saskatchewan adjacent to Regina and through Brandon and Gretna in Manitoba. Similarly, in the United States of America, there will be a US $6.2 billion replacement program for its Line 3 pipeline running from Neche, North Dakota to Superior, Wisconsin. The current Line 3 will be widened and its use is being changed from light oil to mixed use (capable of carrying both light and heavy oil). The pipeline capacity will almost double from 390,000 barrels a day to 760,000 barrels a day."

As such, we can surmise that Enbridge's Line 3 pipeline is a 760,000 barrel per day export pipeline that could carry heavy oil (tar sands bitumen) from Hardisty, Alberta through Saskatchewan (adjacent to Regina) and Manitoba (through Brandon and Gretna) all the way to Superior, Wisconsin (which is located on the western tip of Lake Superior).

It is also beginning to emerge that Indigenous peoples have not been consulted on this project.

The Grand Chief has commented, "Implementing the TRC [Truth and Reconciliation Commission] and the UNDRIP [United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples] would require a consultation protocol outside of the National Energy Board (NEB) process on the matters of Energy East and the Line 3 Replacement in the northern Plains (Treaty 1-11 territories). As it stands now, the only communities who are able to participate in the NEB consultation are the ones who can front the costs of participation in the hearings on a limited cost recovery budget. This means that if you don't have the money to pay for consultation, you don't get any consultation."

In response to this, eight highly respected Anishinaabe (Ojibway), Nehetho (Cree) and Dakota Elders invited National Energy Board members, along with government and industry representatives and the general public, to an Elders and Traditional Knowledge Keepers Gathering at Turtle Lodge in Sagkeeng First Nation, Manitoba this past Saturday (Nov. 28) to share statements about Line 3.

Representatives from Enbridge and the NEB did participate in that gathering.

And today Metro News reports, "Aboriginal elders ... are testifying at an NEB hearing in Winnipeg today [Nov. 30]. Their determination to speak in an uncompromised voice has brought the NEB’s processes into the light and forced the door open for more reasonable consideration of interveners — albeit slightly — but it is a key move in the fight for a fair process, one that brings pressure to the new federal government to make to restore balance to the process."

In March 2014, Enbridge CEO Monaco stated, "[Line 3] does not require a presidential permit. [That's because] Line 3 already operates under an existing presidential permit, so what we're doing here is restoring Line 3 to its original condition." That said, the U.S. Federal Regulatory Commission and the NEB still need to approve it.

The target in-service date for the Line 3 pipeline is late 2017.

For Enbridge's description of the pipeline project, please click here.