Enbridge Pipeline System

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Enbridge System
Canadian Mainline
Country Canada
General direction north–south–east
From Edmonton, Alberta
Passes through Gretna, Manitoba
Sarnia, Ontario
To Montreal, Quebec
General information
Type crude oil, Dilbit
Owner Enbridge Inc.
Technical information
Length 2,306 km (1,433 mi)
Lakehead System
U.S. Mainline
Country United States
General direction north–south–east
From Neche, North Dakota
To Chicago, Illinois
General information
Type crude oil
Owner Enbridge Energy Partners, L.P.
Technical information
Length 3,057 km (1,900 mi)

The Enbridge Pipeline System is an oil pipeline system which transports crude oil and dilbit from Canada to the United States. The system exceeds 5,000 kilometres (3,100 mi) in length including multiple paths. More than 3,000 kilometres (1,900 mi) of the system is in the United States while the rest is in Canada and serves the Athabasca oil sands production facilities. Main parts of the system are 2,306-kilometre-long (1,433 mi) Enbridge System (Canadian Mainline) and 3,057-kilometre-long (1,900 mi) Lakehead System (U.S. Mainline).[1] On average, it delivers 1.4 million barrels per day (220×10^3 m3/d) of crude oil and other products to the major oil refineries in the American Midwest and the Canadian province of Ontario. The Canadian portion is owned by Enbridge, while the U.S. portion is partly owned by that company through Enbridge Energy Partners, LP, formerly known as Lakehead Pipe Line Partners and Lakehead Pipe Line Company.


The first portion of the pipeline was built over the course of 150 days in 1950 by a 1,500-man labor force. It crossed approximately 1,600 kilometres (990 mi) from Redwater, Alberta, through Saskatchewan, Manitoba, North Dakota, and Minnesota, to the Great Lakes seaport of Superior, Wisconsin. At the same time, four oil tankers were constructed to carry the crude from Superior to oil refineries in Sarnia, Ontario. Oil first entered the pipe on August 25, 1950, and the first tanker, Imperial LeDuc, was launched on November 4. Other tankers that followed were, Imperial Redwater, Imperial Woodbend, and B.A. Peerless.[2]

Because the lakes froze in the winter, preventing tanker traffic, the decision was soon made to expand the pipeline all the way to Sarnia. In May 1953, contracts were awarded and construction began. At 2,840 kilometres (1,760 mi), it became the world's longest pipeline. A major upgrade was undertaken in the 1990s to replace old pipe and expand the system.

Mainline system[edit]

Today, there are two routes that oil can take between Superior and Sarnia. A northern route passes through the upper and lower peninsulas of Michigan before crossing into Ontario, while the southern route circles south of Lake Michigan through Illinois and Indiana before reaching Michigan. There are 59 pumping stations in the pipeline system, and the actual pipes range in diameter from 12 to 48 inches (300 to 1,220 mm).

One major junction point is in Clearbrook, Minnesota where the pipeline connects to the Minnesota Pipeline, which carries crude to the Pine Bend Refinery in Rosemount, Minnesota. The North Dakota Pipeline Company system of pipeline also has a connection in Clearbrook, linking the Mandan Refinery in Mandan, North Dakota. The Murphy Oil refinery in Superior, Wisconsin, is directly linked to the pipeline.

Another point in Lockport, Illinois connects two pipelines to Patoka, Illinois, plus a longer link to Cushing, Oklahoma. A relatively short 56-kilometre (35 mi) link from Stockbridge, Michigan connects to two refineries in the Toledo, Ohio area.

The Mainline system, conventionally divided into the US and Canadian mainlines, consists of 1900 miles of pipeline that run from central Alberta to southern Ontario via the northern US.[3] The system can carry up to 2.5 million barrels of oil per day.[3] Lines 1 through 4 connect Edmonton to Superior, Wisconsin. From there, Line 5 runs through the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and across the straits of Mackinac to cross back into Canada at the St. Clair River. Line 6 runs south through Wisconsin and Illinois to the terminal in Griffith, Indiana, which serves BP Whiting and other Chicago-area clients, and then continues on through northwest Indiana and southern Michigan to rejoin Line 5 at Sarnia, Ontario.

The Mainline system comprises Lines 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 10, 11, 14, 61, 62, 64, and 67.[4] Pipelines that connect to the system, but are not part of it, include Line 9 (Montreal to Sarnia), Line 17 (Stockbridge to Toledo), and Line 55 (Flanagan to Cushing).[4]

Pipeline Start End Length (miles) Capacity (m3/day) Size (inches) Materials carried Year created Remarks
Line 1 Edmonton Superior 1098 37600 18/20 Natural gas liquids, refined products, light synthetics 1950
Line 2 Line 2A Edmonton Cromer[5] 596 70300 24 condensate, light synthetic, sweet crude, light & high sour crude 1957
Line 2B Cromer Superior[6] 502 70300 24/26
Line 3 Edmonton Superior 1098 62000 34 condensates (Edmonton to Hardisty only), light synthetic, sweet, light & high sour crude 1967
Line 4 Edmonton Superior 1098 126500 36/48 heavy, medium (from Clearbrook only), light sour (from Clearbrook only) 2002
Line 5 Superior Sarnia 1098 126500 36/48 heavy, medium (from Clearbrook only), light sour crude (from Clearbrook only)[7] 1953 Line splits into two when passing under Straits of Mackinac. Volumes not delivered to Sarnia-area refineries are pumped into tanks for reinjection into Line 7.[7]
Line 6 Line 6A Superior Griffith 467 106000 34 light synthetic (to Lockport only), sweet crude (to Lockport only), light & high sour, medium, heavy[8] 1969[9] delivery points at Lockport, Mokena and Griffith; deliveries for BP Whiting are pumped into delivery tankage for subsequent transfer to Whiting[8]
Line 6B Griffith (Chicago) Sarnia 293 45000 30
Line 7 Sarnia Westover 120 23900 20 light synthetic, sweet, light & high sour, medium, heavy 1957[10]
Line 10 Westover Kiantone NY (United Refining)[11] 91 11800 12/20 light synthetic, sweet, light & high sour, medium, heavy
Line 11 Westover Nanticoke (Imperial Oil)[11] 47 18600 16/20 condensate, light synthetic, sweet, light & high sour, medium, heavy
Line 14 Superior Mokena 467 50500 24 light synthetic, sweet, light & high sour, medium
Line 64 Superior Griffith (Chicago)
Line 61 Superior Flanagan (near Chicago) 454 63600 42 reinjection to Line 55 to Cushing or Line 62 to Griffith. As of January 2015 permits pending for expansion to volume of 1.2 million barrels per day.[12]
Line 62 Flanagan Griffith (Chicago) 75 20700 22 heavy crude
Line 65 Cromer Clearbrook, with connection to Minnesota Pipeline and option to send to breakout tankage for reinjection into Line 3, 4, or 2B[13] 313 29500 20 light sour, medium 2010
Line 67 (Alberta Clipper pipeline) Hardisty Superior, with connection to Minnesota Pipeline at Clearbrook[13] 999 71500 36 heavy crude 2009


As of 2013 there were expansion plans for the pipeline system which would, if permitted and fully built, provide the capacity to transport an amount of dilbit from the Athabasca oil sands into the United States and the Gulf Coast equal to that of the Keystone Pipeline.[14]

Accidents and incidents[edit]

Clearbrook Junction, MN, fire[edit]

On November 28, 2007, a large fire erupted during pipeline repair work at the Clearbrook Junction. This fire, described by a spokesperson for the Minnesota Department of Public Safety as a "big fire, not an explosion", killed two workers and caused a $4 per barrel spike in oil prices the following day. The 34-inch (860 mm) pipeline carries crude from Saskatchewan to the Chicago area.[15]

Kalamazoo River oil spill[edit]

On July 26, 2010, 840,000 gallons of dilbit crude oil leaked from the pipeline in Calhoun County, Michigan, spilling into Talmadge Creek that flows into the Kalamazoo River.[16][17] Despite alarms at Edmonton headquarters it took eighteen hours and a report from a Michigan utilities employee before the pipeline company acted to halt the flow finally. The cleanup expense by summer 2012 had escalated hugely to $765 million due to the difficulty of a dilbit cleanup. The company was fined $3.7 million by the United States Department of Transportation.[18]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ "Liquids Pipelines". Enbridge. Retrieved 2010-08-01. 
  2. ^ Patrick Lapinski (Spring 2005). The Port's Past: Not Your Classic Mix. Duluth Seaway Port Authority Magazine .
  3. ^ a b http://www.enbridgeus.com/Delivering-Energy/Pipeline-Systems/Liquids-Pipelines/
  4. ^ a b Enbridge 2013, p. 1.
  5. ^ Enbridge 2011, p. 86.
  6. ^ Enbridge 2011, p. 86-87.
  7. ^ a b Enbridge 2011, p. 89.
  8. ^ a b Enbridge 2011, p. 89-90.
  9. ^ https://www.michigan.gov/documents/mpsc/MPSC_2010_Annual_Report_346978_7.pdf, page 48/82.
  10. ^ Jessica McDiarmid (2014-01-22). "Ontario pipeline expansion is quietly approved". The Star. Retrieved 2014-03-30. 
  11. ^ a b Enbridge 2011, p. 91.
  12. ^ Dan Kaufman (January 16, 2015). "The Other Pipeline You Should Worry About: It's Not Just Keystone XL, It's Also Line 61" (op-ed). The New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved January 17, 2015. 
  13. ^ a b Enbridge 2011, p. 88.
  14. ^ "Map: Another Major Tar Sands Pipeline Seeking U.S. Permit: Canadian energy giant Enbridge is quietly building a 5,000-mile network of new and expanded pipelines that would achieve the same goal as the Keystone.". Inside Climate News. June 3, 2013. Retrieved June 4, 2013. 
  15. ^ Bloomberg News (August 18, 2010). "Enbridge Fined in Fatal Minnesota Accident". The Chron. Retrieved 15 June 2012. 
  16. ^ Klug, Fritz (2010-07-26). "Oil spills into Calhoun County creek that leads to Kalamazoo River". The Kalamazoo Gazette. Retrieved 27 July 2010. 
  17. ^ Lambert, Sarah (2010-07-26). "840,000 gallons of oil leak into creek". The Battle Creek Enquirer. Retrieved 27 July 2010. [dead link]
  18. ^ "Kalamazoo River Spill Yields Record Fine", Living on Earth, July 6, 2012. Lisa Song, a reporter for Inside Climate News, was interviewed by Bruce Gellerman. Retrieved 2013-01-01.

External links[edit]