Enbridge to build $1.3 billion oil sands pipeline extension
By Jordan Howell
Jul 28, 2013
Canadian pipeline company Enbridge announced plans to build a US $1.3 billion southern extension to its Northern Alberta Woodland oil pipeline to connect the company’s Cheecham Terminal to its Edmonton Terminal and nearby refineries.
The extension will serve Imperial Oil's Kearl oil sands project located in the Athabasca Oil Sands region about 70 kilometers north of Fort McMurray and is planned to be in service by the third quarter of 2015.
Enbridge said in a statement that the 385-kilometre, 36-inch pipeline extension will boast an initial capacity of 400,000 barrels per day, which could be expanded to 800,000 bpd depending on crude viscosity.
"Extension of the Woodland Pipeline will bring additional crude oil transportation capacity into the Edmonton area, enabling us to accommodate forecasted regional oil sands production growth from the Kearl project and other oil sands projects targeted for delivery into the Edmonton hub,” Stephen J. Wuori, President of Liquids Pipelines and Major Projects, said in a Thursday statement.
According to Reuters, the majority of the proposed route follows an existing Enbridge right-of-way near the 600,000 bpd Waupisoo line and will include new pump stations at Roundhill Station and Cheecham Terminal.
"The Woodland Pipeline Extension Project is an example of how Enbridge is able to utilize existing infrastructure and rights-of-way wherever possible to minimize our footprint and our impact to communities, stakeholders and the environment," added Mr. Wuori. "We place the highest priority on the safety and operational reliability of our energy infrastructure at all stages of design, construction and operations."
Imperial Oil runs the Kearl Oil Sands Project, an open-pit mining operation that produced approximately 40,000 bpd when it opened in June and is expected to expand capacity to 110,000 bpd by autumn 2013.
Oil sands, also known as bitumen, are an extremely heavy form of crude oil that, due to its odor and appearance, is commonly associated with tar and has only recently been considered a viable alternative to conventional crude oil.
The Athabasca oil sands in Alberta are the largest known deposits of bitumen in the world.
Once the pipeline extension is completed, it will connect the northern oil sands to three Edmonton area refineries, including Imperial Oil's 187,000 bpd Strathcona facility.
According to an Enbridge statement, “With the Woodland Pipeline Extension Project, Enbridge is constructing infrastructure projects valued at more than $4.3 billion to service the increasing requirements of the Alberta oil sands producers. These projects are forecasted to come into service between 2013 and 2015.”
The Edmonton refineries are the likely starting point of both the Keystone XL Pipeline and the Northern Gateway Project, both of which aim to connect Alberta’s oil sands to coastal refineries.
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has been an out-spoken proponent of the pipeline projects that have run into fierce opposition from both US and Canadian environmental groups.
In June, British Columbia rejected Enbridge’s plan for the Northern Gateway Project which would have connected Edmonton area refineries to the Pacific coast via pipeline. British Columbia’s liberal government claimed that Enbridge was ill-prepared to respond in the case of a major oil spill.
Similar opposition has been endemic in the United States, where environmental groups claim that oil sands are more harmful to the environment than traditional petroleum.
Enbridge completed the first phase of the Woodland Pipeline Extension Project in last autumn when it connected the Kearl Oil Sands south to the Cheecham terminal.
Enbridge received regulatory approval for the remainder of the project from the Alberta Energy Regulator in August 2012.