Enbridge shares jump after Minnesota regulators approve Line 3 pipeline route

Enbridge shares jump after Minnesota regulators approve Line 3 pipeline route

Enbridge Inc.'s planned $7 billion replacement and expansion of its Line 3 conduit, linking Alberta's oil fields to refineries in the USA, was given the green light by regulators in Minnesota on Thursday, clearing the way for the project to move ahead.

"The PUC's decision to approve our preferred route with modifications is a good outcome for Minnesota and the result of listening carefully to stakeholders and an effective consultation process", Al Monaco said in the statement. Tania Aubid of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe stood and said when the PUC's decision became apparent. "This is Minnesota's Standing Rock". "It feels like a gun to our head ..." Enbridge has said it needs to replace the pipeline because it's increasingly subject to corrosion and cracking, and that it would continue to run Line 3 if regulators rejected its proposal.

"What they have done to us today is egregious", said Winona LaDuke, executive director of Honor the Earth activist group.

Enbridge released a statement saying, "Replacing line 3 is first and foremost about the safety and integrity of this critical energy infrastructure".

The approved route would mostly avoid two American Indian reservations whose tribes strongly oppose the project, with a short crossing at one stretch of the Fond du Lac Band of Chippewa's land to connect to existing pipeline.

The pipeline now runs from Alberta, Canada, across North Dakota and Minnesota to Enbridge's terminal in Superior, Wisconsin.

Tribal lawyers had reluctantly backed an alternative route that went much farther south as the least bad option.

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Recognized parties, including Enbridge, environmental and indigenous groups, have 20 days from the time a written order is issued - likely in a couple of weeks - to ask the commission to reconsider.

Enbridge Energy officials say they're on track to finish construction and put the disputed Line 3 replacement crude oil pipeline into service in the second half of next year, assuming they get the remaining approvals.

Gov. Mark Dayton said that even with the certificate of need the PUC granted Thursday, Enbridge has many more hoops to jump through before construction can start in the state.

Opponents held a news conference Friday on the approved route where the pipeline would cross the Minnesota-Wisconsin border on its way to Superior, within sight of equipment they said Enbridge has already stockpiled in preparation for construction in Minnesota.

Commissioner John Tuma, left, speaks during a Public Utilities Commission meeting on Thursday, June 28, 2018, in St. Paul, Minn.

Construction of the pipeline is crucial to ensure access to the U.S. Midwest, which imported 2.3 million barrels per day of Canadian crude in 2017, said Nancy Berard-Brown, manager of oil markets and transportation for the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers.

"Approvals are by no means assured", he said.

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