Enbridge’s natural gas pipeline approved by energy board

The National Energy Board (NEB) board has approved an Enbridge bid to continue operating the $31bn Mainline natural gas pipeline system, including its third-party contracting.

The board approved the application unanimously, as expected, after the company announced that there would be no spills in the 60 years of operation. The board noted that in its report, “the board also understands that there has not been a significant incident during the 20-year period from 1992-present under the existing operating model, and that there are no known significant incidents associated with the three management boxes offered by Enbridge to address concerns related to pipeline integrity.”

Enbridge must also set up the safety system for its third-party business deal, the approval stated.

Meanwhile, Enbridge said its Line 3 Replacement Project would create jobs for 15,000 in northern Minnesota, and bring in almost 500m cubic feet per day to the state.

According to the report, “the Minnesota Department of Commerce (MNC) has indicated that the new pipeline would provide a net economic benefit to the State of Minnesota of $73m per year after 10 years of operation. However, the federal government estimates that this beneficial effect will decline to $29m annually if throughput is reduced below 450mcf/d.”

Since 2005, Enbridge has undergone significant environmental changes, the board noted, including:

Having reported on their solid waste;

Fully disclosing its cross-border spills;

Funding the clean-up and repair of 230 spills, and the replacement of 871 oil and gas pipelines since 1994;

Providing access to plans for 10 of their ten refineries;

Investing $1.1bn in preventing, managing and mitigating petroleum spills and other incidents along their System;

Establishing and working to implement procedures to track all of its maintenance and repair expenses;

Introducing a new form of cancer-causing cancer compound that they only find once, and removing a Minnesota resident from a toxic leak at their refinery.

After a spill last year in the Saskatchewan area, Enbridge purchased the largest ethanol plant in North America to create jobs in the area.

In Alberta, Enbridge was downgraded by the Central Energy regulator in March, and further reported oil spills along the pipeline infrastructure last fall.

While most of the spills came from small cracks in third-party compression tanks, and were non-disastrous, there were three leaks along Enbridge’s Mainline. At least one spilled more than 100,000 litres of oil into the land, and three more spilled less than 20,000 litres.

• For more information on the Enbridge pipeline network see The Roll of the Tide

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