Enbridge Pipeline System

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Enbridge System
Canadian Mainline
General directionnorth–south–east
FromEdmonton, Alberta
Passes throughGretna, Manitoba
Sarnia, Ontario
ToMontreal, Quebec
General information
Typecrude oil, Dilbit
OwnerEnbridge Inc.
Technical information
Length2,306 km (1,433 mi)
Lakehead System
U.S. Mainline
CountryUnited States
General directionnorth–south–east
FromNeche, North Dakota
ToChicago, Illinois
General information
Typecrude oil
OwnerEnbridge Energy Partners, L.P.
Technical information
Length3,057 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) Canadian Mainline[1] and 3,057-kilometre-long (1,900 mi) Lakehead System (U.S. Mainline).[2] 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.[3]

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. The system can carry up to 2.5 million barrels of oil per day. 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. 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).

Pipeline Start End Length (miles) Capacity (m3/day) Size (inches) Materials carried Year created Remarks
Line 1 Edmonton Superior 1098 37600 18[4] Natural gas liquids, refined products, light synthetics 1950[4]
Line 2 Line 2A Edmonton Cromer 596 70300 24 condensate, light synthetic, sweet crude, light & high sour crude 1957[4]
Line 2B Cromer Superior 502 70300 24/26
Line 3 Edmonton[5] Superior[5] 1097[5] 120830[5] 34[4][5] light crudeoil, heavy & sour dilbit[5] 1967[4]
Line 4 Edmonton Superior 1098 126500 36[4] heavy, medium (from Clearbrook only), light sour (from Clearbrook only) 2002[4]
Line 5 Superior Sarnia 1098 126500 36/48 heavy, medium (from Clearbrook only), light sour crude (from Clearbrook only) 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.
Line 6 Line 6A Superior Griffith 467 106000 34 light synthetic (to Lockport only), sweet crude (to Lockport only), light & high sour, medium, heavy 1969 delivery points at Lockport, Mokena and Griffith; deliveries for BP Whiting are pumped into delivery tankage for subsequent transfer to Whiting
Line 6B Griffith (Chicago) Sarnia 293 45000 30
Line 7 Sarnia Westover 120 23900 20 light synthetic, sweet, light & high sour, medium, heavy 1957[6]
Line 9 North Westover Sarnia 397 35770 30 light synthetic, sweet, light & high sour, medium, heavy 1976[7] Reversal (originally proposed in 2012) was completed in two stages including an expansion of capacity from 240,000 BPD to 300,000 BPD in 2015[8][9]
Line 10 Westover Kiantone NY (United Refining) 91 11800 12/20 light synthetic, sweet, light & high sour, medium, heavy 1962[10]
Line 11 Westover Nanticoke (Imperial Oil) 47 18600 16/20 condensate, light synthetic, sweet, light & high sour, medium, heavy
Line 13 (Southern Lights pipeline) Manhattan (Illinois) Edmonton 1588 18618 20[4] diluent[4] 2010[4]
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.
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 313 29500 20 light sour, medium 2010
Line 67 (Alberta Clipper pipeline) Hardisty Superior, with connection to Minnesota Pipeline at Clearbrook 999 71500 36[4] heavy crude 2009[4]


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.[11]

Accidents and incidents[edit]

Largest ever inland oil spill[edit]

In 1991, Enbridge's Line 3 pipeline spilled 1.7 million gallons of oil in Grand Rapids, MN.[12] This was the largest inland spill of oil ever in U.S. history.[13] Deliberations over construction of a new Line 3 pipeline have drawn resistance from climate justice organizers and Native communities in Minnesota.[14]

Cohasset, MN oil spill[edit]

On July 4th, 2002, 252,000 gallons of crude oil spilled into a marsh near Cohasset, Minnesota due to a rupture of Line 4 running from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, and Superior, Wisconsin.[15] Emergency responders enacted a controlled burn at 4:45pm the next day to prevent the oil from penetrating into any waterways. The cost of remediating the accident was reported around $5.6 million.[15]

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.[16]

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.[17][18] 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. Enbridge reached a settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice and Environmental Protection Agency for a total of $177 million in response to the spill, along with an additional spill in Romeoville, Illinois later that year. This settlement included $110 million in spill prevention, $62 million in Clean Water Act violations, and $5.4 million in cleanup costs.[19] In addition, the company was fined $3.7 million by the United States Department of Transportation due to 24 violations in pipeline safety regulation.[20] By 2014, the cost of cleanup to the company totaled to $1.21 billion.[21]

2018 Tugboat anchor incident[edit]

In 2018, a tugboat dropped its anchor on the pipeline near Michigan, denting the pipe[22].

See also[edit]


  • Enbridge Pipelines Inc. (2011-07-01). "Competitive Toll Settlement" (PDF). Retrieved 2014-03-30.
  • Enbridge (2013). "Pipeline System Configuration: Quarter 1, 2013".


  1. ^ Enbridge Income Fund. "Our Assets: Overview". Retrieved 2018-07-07.
  2. ^ Enbridge Energy Limited Partnership. "Liquids Pipelines - Superior Region" (PDF). Retrieved 2018-07-07.
  3. ^ Patrick Lapinski (Spring 2005). The Port's Past: Not Your Classic Mix. Archived 2010-01-09 at the Wayback Machine Duluth Seaway Port Authority Magazine .
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "Enbridge Sandpiper & Line 3 Environmental Impact Statement - Wisconsin DNR". dnr.wi.gov. Retrieved 2016-11-15.
  5. ^ a b c d e f Department of Natural Resources, Wisconsin (2016). Final Environmental Impact Statement: Enbridge Sandpiper Pipeline and Line 3 Replacement Projects (PDF). Douglas County, WI: Author.
  6. ^ Jessica McDiarmid (2014-01-22). "Ontario pipeline expansion is quietly approved". The Star. Retrieved 2014-03-30.
  7. ^ http://www.enbridge.com/ECRAI.aspx
  8. ^ Reuters Staff (2012-07-27). "Enbridge bid for partial Line 9 reversal approved". Reuters. Retrieved 2018-08-09.
  9. ^ National Post Wire Services (2015-12-03). "Oil begins to flow through Line 9 today as Enbridge Inc hikes dividend, releases outlook". Financial Post. Retrieved 2018-08-09.
  10. ^ "The Line 10 Westover Segment Replacement Project". Retrieved 2017-03-03.
  11. ^ "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.
  12. ^ Nelson, Cody (April 23, 2018). "Line 3 timeline: From construction to present day battles". MPRNews.
  13. ^ Kraker, Dan (June 20, 2018). "Rivers of Oil, Episode 2: The largest inland spill". MPRNews.
  14. ^ "Minnesota regulators to decide this week on Enbridge Line 3". MPRNews. June 25, 2018.
  15. ^ a b National Transportation Safety Board. (2002). Rupture of Enbridge Pipeline and Release of Crude Oil near Cohasset, Minnesota. Pipeline Accident Report NTSB/PAR-04/01. Washington, DC: Author.
  16. ^ Bloomberg News (August 18, 2010). "Enbridge Fined in Fatal Minnesota Accident". The Chron. Retrieved 15 June 2012.
  17. ^ Klug, Fritz (2010-07-26). "Oil spills into Calhoun County creek that leads to Kalamazoo River". The Kalamazoo Gazette. Retrieved 27 July 2010.
  18. ^ 05, US EPA, REG. "EPA Response to Enbridge Spill in Michigan". www.epa.gov. Retrieved 2016-11-15.
  19. ^ "United States, Enbridge Reach $177 Million Settlement After 2010 Oil Spills in Michigan and Illinois". www.justice.gov. Retrieved 2016-11-15.
  20. ^ Administration, Department of Transportation's Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety. "PHMSA - Hazardous Liquids". www.phmsa.dot.gov. Retrieved 2016-11-15.
  21. ^ Enbridge Energy Partners, L.P. (2014). Form 10-K 2014. Retrieved from SEC EDGAR website http://www.sec.gov/edgar.shtml
  22. ^ http://www.woodtv.com/news/michigan/enbridge-damaged-oil-pipeline-was-close-to-rupture/1178560262

External links[edit]