Ontario municipalities raise oil spill concerns on Enbridge pipeline reversal – by Jeff Lewis (National Post – March 26, 2013)

The National Post is Canada’s second largest national paper.

CALGARY – A coalition of Ontario municipalities is raising concerns about plans to reverse the flow of Enbridge Inc.’s Line 9 pipeline to Montreal, reviving the spectre of a 2010 rupture on the company’s Lakehead system near Marshall, Mich. that spilled more than 20,000 barrels of crude oil into local waterways.

Calgary-based Enbridge wants to send oil east along a 639-kilometre section of the 1970s-era pipeline from North Westover, Ont., near Hamilton, giving Quebec refineries owned by Suncor Energy Inc. and Ultramar Ltd. access to cheaper crude oil from Alberta and North Dakota’s Bakken formation. Enbridge has also applied to increase capacity on the entire Sarnia-to-Montreal route to 300,000 barrels per day, from 240,000 barrels today.

Major urban centres along the pipeline’s path, including the cities of Hamilton, Mississauga, Toronto and Kingston, have written to the National Energy Board expressing concern about the integrity of Line 9 and Enbridge’s ability to respond to an oil spill following the Michigan rupture. Their interest in the application reflects a lingering anxiety among municipalities about oil pipelines, more than two years after a report by the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board criticized Enbridge’s monitoring procedures and training of control-centre personnel.

“That twigged a lot of concerns because that was quite a catastrophic spill that is still being cleaned up,” said Guy Paparella, director of growth planning in the planning and economic development department at the City of Hamilton, where he said the pipeline passes through several wetlands including the picturesque Beverly Swamp.

“It cost about $800-million so far and probably more by the time they’re finished.”

Enbridge’s U.S. affiliate, Enbridge Energy Partners L.P., said in a regulatory filing last week the cleanup tab for the 2010 rupture and spill could reach nearly $1-billion, or $175-million above an earlier estimate of $820-million, after it was ordered back to the site by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to conduct additional containment and recovery of submerged oil.

The $129-million Line 9 reversal and expansion project stands to save Quebec refiners up to $23-billion over 30 years, according to Enbridge estimates, although that figure could be less as pipeline bottlenecks elsewhere are cleared.

Throughput on the line, which was first commissioned in 1976 to carry oil east then reversed in 1999 amid changing market conditions, averaged 64,000 barrels per day between 2009 and 2011, Enbridge said in filings. The volume is a fraction of the pipeline’s 240,000-barrel capacity.

For the rest of this article, please go to the National Post website: http://business.financialpost.com/2013/03/25/ontario-municipalities-raise-oil-spill-concerns-on-enbridge-pipeline-reversal/?__lsa=5fa9-e520

Comments are closed.