NEB recommends Line 3 approval
Federal regulator imposes on project 89 safety, environmental conditions
A major new pipeline project that would move oil to the United States should be approved, with dozens of conditions, the National Energy Board recommended Monday.
The NEB released its recommendation that the federal government should approve Enbridge Inc.'s application to replace its Line 3 pipeline between Alberta and Wisconsin, which would allow the company to ship 760,000 barrels per day through the line.
The company currently ships about 390,000 bpd through the existing line.
The project is the largest in Enbridge's history with an estimated price tag of $7.5 billion and the company expects the new line, built next to the roughly 50-yearold existing line, will be in operation by 2019.
Enbridge issued a statement following the NEB announcement, which said the recommendation was “an important step in the regulatory process of this important maintenance project.
“We are reviewing the conditions now.”
At the same time, the federal regulator imposed 89 conditions on the approval, including environmental and safety issues.
“The hearing panel is of the view that replacing the existing Line 3 pipeline is an important step in the life cycle of the pipeline,” NEB chief environment officer Robert Steedman said.
“The new pipeline will be built to modern standards and will operate with improved safety and reliability, which is a significant benefit of the project.”
The new line would allow Canadian oil companies more access to the U.S. market — something the domestic energy industry has been seeking for years, especially as Enbridge's competitor TransCanada Corp.'s application to build the Keystone XL pipeline between Alberta and the U.S. was denied by U.S. President Barack Obama in November last year.
Unlike Keystone XL, Enbridge did not need presidential approval for its Line 3 project because the pipeline route already exists.
However Enbridge, Canada's largest pipeline company, does need regulatory approval from U.S. agencies, a process already underway.
Federal Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr released a statement that said the federal government will now undertake an additional review of upstream oil and gas emissions, before issuing its decision on the project in fall 2016. The panel recommending approval of Line 3 also took the relatively unusual step of making policy recommendations to the federal regulator.
It recommended, for example, the NEB work with aboriginal groups, many of whom acted as interveners in the regulatory hearing process, to create aboriginal monitoring programs for large pipeline projects.
It also recommended the NEB develop a policy framework for decommissioning and abandoning existing pipelines.
“After weighing the evidence for and against decommissioning the pipeline in place, the NEB was not persuaded that the benefits to removing the existing Line 3 pipeline outweigh the risks at this time,” Steedman said.
The regulator has asked Enbridge to submit a separate application to abandon the existing pipeline — one of six arteries that make up Enbridge’s Canadian main line — at an “appropriate time.”
At least one Alberta landowner had asked that the existing pipeline be removed from beneath his land.
Stewart Crone, who farms in
The new pipeline will be built to modern standards and will operate with improved safety …
east-central Alberta near Hardisty where the line begins, was the only landowner to act as an intervener in the hearing on Line 3.
The process attracted significantly less attention than projects such as the Trans Mountain pipeline, the Energy East pipeline and Keystone XL pipelines.