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Commentary: Enbridge dedicated to pipeline integrity management

During the Public Utilities Commission and Department of Commerce’s public information and scoping meetings for Enbridge’s Line 3 Replacement Project in Park Rapids last week there were numerous questions about the deactivation of Line 3 once the new Line 3 is constructed, pending regulatory approval.  Deactivation is governed by PHMSA (Pipeline Hazardous Materials and Safety Administration), specifically, C.F.R. (Code of Federal Regulations) Parts 195.59 and 195.402. Locally, Enbridge will consult with the Minnesota Office of Pipeline Safety in coordinating its deactivation activities. In addition, ASME (American Society of Mechanical Engineers) B31.4-2012, developed guidelines in support of federal requirements. All of these facts are part of the Line 3 Replacement permit application submitted to and deemed complete by the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission. Those materials are available to the public free of charge.  For 65 years, safe and reliable operation has been the foundation of Enbridge’s business; maintaining pipeline integrity is essential to operating our system. 

Line 3 was built in 1962 through 1968 as a looping project. It has experienced a number of integrity digs over its lifetime. Since 2008, Enbridge has operated and maintained Line 3 by implementing voluntary pressure restrictions reducing the average annual capacity of deliveries to 390,000 bpd. As a result of the integrity maintenance program, Enbridge concluded that replacement is the optimal alternative when compared to ongoing and increasing maintenance activities. Enbridge will continue to operate the existing pipeline safely while the new pipeline is installed, pending regulatory approval.   In removing Line 3 from service, Enbridge will adhere to all applicable statutes, rules and regulations, and ensure that the public, the environment, current land use, adjacent Enbridge pipelines, and third-party utilities are protected.

Enbridge will continue to monitor the deactivated Line 3 right-of-way.  Monitoring includes patrolling and monitoring surface conditions, mowing brush, maintaining signage, maintaining Line 3’s registration in the one-call system, and retaining the pipeline within Enbridge’s emergency response protocols.  As for actual deactivation procedures, the existing Line 3 will be permanently removed from service once the replacement pipeline is operational. The deactivation process is anticipated to take 12-18 months. Deactivation includes: (1) removing oil from the pipe; (2) cleaning the pipe; and (3) safely disconnecting and isolating the pipeline from facilities.

The deactivated pipeline will remain in place and corrosion controls will be maintained to ensure structural integrity and to prohibit corrosion.  Plain and simple, Enbridge is responsible for our pipelines, whether operational or deactivated.  The company’s dedication to integrity management, operational maintenance and thoughtful project development solidifies the fact that we are committed public safety and environmental stewardship while continuing to safely meet Minnesota and North America’s energy needs.