Enbridge Inc. has asked Canadian regulators for permission to start up a pipeline by late June 2015 that would ship crude oil from Western Canada to refineries in Eastern Canada, a move that had been delayed by concerns over pipeline safety measures.
The request comes nearly a year after Canada’s National Energy Board (NEB) initially gave its blessing to reverse the flow of oil along one section of Enbridge’s 550-mile pipeline. If granted, the company said it plans to begin crude oil shipments in the second quarter, which would be about six months after it had hoped to start up in November.
Line nine is one of several pipeline projects designed to ease bottlenecks that have depressed prices of Western Canadian Select crude oil. The reversal has been eagerly awaited by Suncor Energy Inc., which plans to use Line nine to ship oil sands crude from northern Alberta to a refinery it owns in Montreal.
A section of the pipeline known as 9B currently carries oil westward from a terminal in eastern Montreal to a pumping station near Toronto. Once reversed, the $400 million project will allow up to 300,000 barrels a day to flow as far as 1,433 miles from Edmonton, Alberta, via a connection to Enbridge’s Mainline pipe.
Canadian regulators told Enbridge last fall that it couldn’t move ahead with the Line nine pipeline reversal until it had addressed concerns about shut-off valves, particularly where the pipeline traverses water bodies. To meet those conditions, Enbridge added 17 new valves for a total of 62 valves along the pipeline.