Enbridge advances two pipeline projects

By OGJ editors
HOUSTON, Jan. 30 -- Enbridge Energy Partners LP has let a contract to Gulf Interstate Engineering Co. for first-phase preliminary engineering services for sections of the proposed Alberta Clipper oil pipeline and the Southern Lights diluent pipeline, which is under development in the US. The contract value was not disclosed.

The section of the Alberta Clipper project covered under the Gulf Interstate contract includes 325 miles of 36-in. pipe that will extend from the US-Canadian border to Superior, Wis. Also covered are three 15,000-hp pump stations.

The portion of the Southern Lights project covered under the contract includes a 190-mile, 20-in. line from Superior, Wis., to Clearbrook, Minn., a 6,000 hp pump station, and flow reversal at three existing pump stations. The complete $920 million Southern Lights project involves installation of 475 miles of pipe that will transport diluent (OGJ Online, Aug. 29, 2006).

This contract award follows Enbridge's announcement that it has received industry support to proceed with construction of two projects as additions to the Enbridge common carrier mainline system. The $2 billion (2006 US dollars) Alberta Clipper project, which Enbridge initially introduced in February 2006, is one of these. The other is a $3 million (Can.) Line 4 Extension project, which is designed to eliminate a potential capacity bottleneck on the mainline system between Edmonton and Hardisty, Alta.

The extension project involves the construction of 85 miles of 36-in. segments of pipe that will connect existing 48-in. pipe segments that have been idle between Edmonton and Hardisty and move the origination point of Line 4 from Hardisty back to Edmonton. Capacity of the extension will be 880,000 b/d to match current Line 4 capacity.

The Alberta Clipper project involves the construction of a 36-in., 990-mile crude line from Hardisty, Alta., to Superior, Wis., primarily following Enbridge's existing right-of-way. The line's initial capacity will be 450,000 b/d and ultimate capacity will be about 800,000 b/d.

The Canadian portion of Alberta Clipper is expected to cost about $1.5 billion (Can.) and the US portion is expected to cost $8 million (US).

Both the Alberta Clipper and the Line 4 Extension projects will be integrated with, and form part of the existing Enbridge system in Canada, and the company's Lakehead system in the US.

Enbridge and the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers will attempt during this quarter to finalize the scope and other details of these two projects, which remain subject to company board approvals, as well as various Canadian and US regulatory approvals and permits.

The company plans also to immediately begin long lead-time activities, such as finalizing steel pipe commitments, public consultation, preparatory work for right-of-way, and working space access agreements and permits to facilitate an anticipated in-service date for the Line 4 Extension of late 2008, and for Alberta Clipper, late 2009 to mid-2010.

Enbridge said that in order to balance the increased capacity into Superior, an expansion of the 42-in. Southern Access line to Chicago will be undertaken at an estimated cost of $1 million. The Southern Access project is being developed in two stages providing a capacity of 146,000 b/d by first quarter 2008 and an additional 254,000 b/d by first quarter 2009. This project is expandable to 1.2 million b/d with expansions timed concurrently with the Alberta Clipper project.

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