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Enbridge announces year delay on Line 3 completion

Enbridge Line 3 contractors were back to work after a protest at a site near Superior, Wis., in 2017. Brady Slater / Forum News Service

DULUTH — Enbridge announced on Friday, March 1, that its Line 3 pipeline project is being delayed a year.

Last month, company officials said they hoped to have the line up and running by the end of 2019, but now say that won’t happen until late 2020.

A major reason for that is delays in the permitting process. Enbridge officials say both state and federal permits will be finalized later than previously expected, even though the company submitted its permit applications late last year. Enbridge said the state of Minnesota’s permits will be finalized in November and the federal permits 30-60 days after that.

"We now have a firm schedule from the state on the timing of the remaining permits for our Line 3 replacement project," Al Monaco, CEO of the Calgary-based company, said in a news release.

Enbridge cleared a major hurdle last summer when the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission unanimously approved the Enbridge Line 3 replacement pipeline amid protests and lawsuits, but state and federal permits will still be needed to see the project to the finish line.

When complete, the pipeline will carry 760,000 barrels of oil per day across 340 miles of northern Minnesota on its route from Alberta to the Enbridge terminal in Superior, Wis., replacing the 50-year-old Line 3. From Superior, it will connect with other pipelines destined for the Gulf Coast.

Environmental and indigenous groups say the pipeline is dangerous and unnecessary; Enbridge and its supporters say the replacement line is needed to improve safety and ensure reliable energy supplies for Minnesota and the region. Line 3 will restore its capacity from 370,000 barrels per day to its original 760,000 barrels per day when work is finished.

While construction on the Canadian segment of Line 3 is nearly complete, much work remains through Minnesota’s portion.

"We will continue to work with the state agencies and the administration to ensure that this critical safety-driven project is completed in a timely manner,” Monaco said in the news release.

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