Understanding Enbridge’s Oil Sands Pipeline Tactic From Canada
Posted at 10:14 a.m. on Aug. 25, 2014
A pipeline company intends to connect two pipelines in order to add more than 300,000 barrels per day of capacity to cross into the United States from Canada without waiting for the kind of permit that has hampered the Keystone XL Pipeline.
Citing a delay for a presidential permit and demand for getting tar sands oil from Alberta, Canada, to refiners, Enbridge Inc. indicated that it intends to increase capacity on its Alberta Clipper-Line 67 pipeline by swapping oil with a parallel Line 3, which carries light crude oil and runs at reduced capacity because of pressure restrictions on the decades-old line. The interconnections will allow Enbridge to add 75,000 barrels per day of capacity this year and a total of 800,000 barrels per day by mid-2015.
An increase in capacity generally requires State Department approval, but the department indicated that Enbridge’s interconnection changes did not require further approval because the oil would cross the border under existing presidential permits.
The portion of Line 3 that crosses the border has been upgraded and, according to a State Department official, there is no limit on the permitted capacity of Line 3, which was approved decades ago.
Enbridge told the State Department that it plans to put 800,000 barrels per day across the border through Line 3 and back on to Line 67 once it gets needed approvals for pumping upgrades, which it calls Phase II, from state regulators and the Army Corps of Engineers:
The interconnections will also provide Enbridge with the operational flexibility to transport crude oil in the range of 800,000 bpd of oil on Line 67 south of the Line 3 interconnection through the construction and operation of the Phase II Pump Upgrades.
As Reuters and other outlets reported, the strategy has riled environmental groups, which say the increased capacity should be reviewed by the presidential permitting process. The State Department said it will conduct an environmental review of the entire Line 67 project, but that is not slowing Enbridge’s plans for expanding capacity.