By Dan Healing
THE CANADIAN PRESS
CALGARY -Enbridge Inc. says it will continue to seek approval for the Line 3 replacement pipeline route it prefers through Minnesota despite a judge’s recommendation Monday that the new pipe be laid on the same route as the existing pipe.
Enbridge said in a statement after markets closed Tuesday that it appreciates that administrative law Judge Ann O’Reilly agrees there’s need for the project but disagrees with her routing decision and will continue to try to convince the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission to endorse its preferred route.
Enbridge selected its route to respect sovereignty of the tribal communities through which the pipeline corridor currently passes, it said, adding the route is least impactful on tribal/cultural resources, proximity to drinking water and “high consequence” population areas.
Analysts at Desjardins Capital Markets said in a report that utilizing the existing route would create delays as it would mean physically removing the old pipe and replacing it, a process that would require Enbridge to stop oil shipments for about 16 months.
That would effectively remove 390,000 barrels per day of crude oil takeaway capacity.
The existing route crosses two Ojibwe Native American reservations where tribal governments have voiced opposition to replacing the line, setting up the potential for future disputes, Desjardins said.
Shares in Enbridge Inc. closed down more than five per cent on Tuesday on the Toronto Stock Exchange.
O’Reilly wrote on Monday that the negative consequences to Minnesota of the company’s more southerly preferred route outweigh the benefits. The cost-benefit analysis shifts in favour of approving the project if Enbridge builds the pipeline in Line 3’s existing trench, she said.
O’Reilly’s recommendations aren’t binding on the commission but they are the product of an extensive public hearing and comment process.
Commission Chair Nancy Lange acknowledged at a hearing last month that whatever the commission decides, the dispute is likely to end up in court.