Enbridge Inc. has received National Energy Board approval for a proposed flow reversal in a pipeline between southern Ontario and Quebec. The oil company’s proposal had generated significant public interest and controversy, in part because of plans to increase the flow from 240,000 barrels per day to 300,000 bpd. Enbridge will also be permitted to move heavy crude oil from Alberta oil sands. Approval comes several months after public hearings were held, and two years after the proposal was first put forward.
In its own statement about the approval, Enbridge says that the approval “will enable the delivery of reliable, competitive North American crude oil for Ontario and Quebec based refineries.”
“The benefits of the reversal of Line 9B are clear,” said Al Monaco, President and Chief Executive Officer, Enbridge Inc. “For Quebec, bringing a new, reliable supply of competitively priced crude oil to respond to the needs of Quebec-based refineries will protect more than 4,000 jobs, sustain a vibrant petrochemical industry and strengthen the economy. For our customers, Line 9B reversal is an important component of our broader market access initiatives to open up and expand connections to key refining markets. Core to our strategy is to reduce our industry’s environmental footprint which is why our first choice is always to use existing infrastructure.”
Enbridge must satisfy thirty conditions imposed by the NEB before proceeding with the reversal. The conditions include requirements that Enbridge demonstrate pipeline integrity and show emergency readiness in case of a spill. Enbridge must file an environmental protection plan with the NEB. An ongoing consultative process between Enbridge and the NEB is also required.
Groups that expressed concerns about the plan included environmental organizations, municipalities and private citizens. One common complaint was that the line is old—it was built in 1976—and prone to leaks. Some feel a leak is inevitable.
The reversal of Line 9B, a 639-kilometre section of Line 9 from Westover, Ontario to Montreal, represents the second and final phase of Enbridge’s Eastern Canadian Refinery Access Initiative. The NEB approved the reversal of Line 9A, a 246 km section between Sarnia and Westover on July 27, 2012. Enbridge completed the reversal in August, 2013 and Line 9A is flowing in a west to east direction providing supply to Ontario’s Nanticoke refinery.