Enbridge Line 3 oil pipeline replacement faces new delay over water concerns


A Minnesota pollution regulator said on Wednesday it will hold a public hearing this summer on Enbridge Inc’s plan to replace its Line 3 oil pipeline, adding a potential three-month delay and pushing the bulk of construction to next year.The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) said the hearing will focus on how Enbridge intends to protect streams and wetlands that the pipeline crosses.

Replacing Line 3, a 1960s-era branch of Enbridge’s vast Mainline network, would allow the company to boost its flow of oil from a Canadian oil hub in Edmonton, Alberta, to refiners in the U.S. Midwest. A shortage of transport space has weakened Canadian oil prices in recent years, but pipeline capacity became ample this year after deep oil production cuts during the COVID-19 pandemic.

MPCA granted Enbridge a draft water quality certificate in February. But during a public comment period, activist groups and two indigenous bands submitted a joint petition raising concerns, leading the MPCA to schedule a hearing.

The deadline for MPCA to issue the certificate is now Nov. 14, instead of Aug. 15.

In a statement, Calgary, Alberta-based Enbridge said it would work in the meantime with other agencies to get remaining permits, in order to start construction this year. Most of the work will now happen in 2021, it said.

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