First new oil sands pipeline in years may start exports to U.S. next month

By Robert Tuttle on 8/15/2021

CALGARY (Bloomberg) --A key pipeline linking Canada’s oil sands to U.S. markets could start shipping crude as early as next month.

Enbridge Inc.’s Line 3 oil pipeline from Alberta to Wisconsin could start operating as soon as Sept. 15, bringing relief to Canadian oil sands producers who have had limited access to export pipelines. The new 760,0000 barrel-a-day conduit that replaces an older one with less capacity is as little as 30 to 60 days from completion, according to a notice sent to shippers.

Canada’s oil sands producers have struggled for years with a shortage of export pipelines as projects to build new ones face increasing scrutiny from courts and regulators. U.S. President Joe Biden, on his first day in office, rescinded a permit for TC Energy Corp.’s Keystone XL project that would have helped increase shipments of Canadian crude to the U.S. Gulf Coast.

“Enbridge has filed for toll surcharges on the Line 3 replacement with the Canada Energy Regulator and Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which could be effective as early as Sept. 15,” a spokesperson said in an emailed statement. “There will be a further filing to specify the specific in-service date shortly before the line goes into service once all necessary construction and commissioning activities are complete.”

Heavy Western Canadian Select crude for September delivery was unchanged at a $13 a barrel discount to benchmark West Texas Intermediate at 2:48 p.m. Calgary time, after the spread earlier shrank to as narrow as $12.60 a barrel, NE2 Group data show.

The pipeline would be the first new cross-border export project built between Canada and the U.S. in years. The line is scheduled to enter service with oil sands production exceeding the capacity of existing lines out of Western Canada, forcing some companies to ship crude by rail.

The Line 3 project has been fiercely opposed by some environmental and indigenous groups, who have staged protests this summer along the construction route. Enbridge spent years in court fights and regulatory battles to get the line built. The Trans Mountain expansion, another export pipeline under construction is British Columbia, is scheduled to enter service as early as 2022.

Enbridge shares were little changed in Toronto on Friday, at C$49.06.

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