Police were called to the Enbridge Inc. Line 3 pipeline in Minnesota earlier this week after protestors shackled themselves to the equipment being used to modernize and expand the infrastructure, in service since 1968, shipping crude oil from Alberta, Canada, to Midwest U.S. refiners.
The protesters, mostly white according to photographs accompanying a Reuters report, said they stand with indigenous people who believe the pipelines are a threat to waterways despite no evidence to back up the claims.
In fact, Enbridge puts out an annual safety report detailing spills. In 2020 statistics included seven spills, all on Enbridge property. The total release volume was 943 barrels:
Of those 943 barrels, 880 barrels were spilled at Enbridge facilities, fully contained within our facilities, and cleaned up with little or no environmental impact. To put this number in perspective, 63 barrels—the amount we spilled outside our facilities in 2020—are a small fraction of a single rail car, and Enbridge’s pipeline network delivers about 25 percent of the crude produced in North America. With a safe delivery record of 99.999975 percent, 2020 was one of the best years in our company history in terms of leak performance.
“The company said the protests had so far had relatively little impact on construction and Line 3 is on schedule to be in service by the fourth quarter,” Reuters reported.
Even with Democrat President Joe Biden conducting a war on pipelines, including shutting down construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline, the Keystone Pipeline system and other pipeline systems from Canada to the U.S. continue to flow with oil and gas in record numbers.
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) reported on the development:
As companies produce more oil and gas in Western Canada, the pipeline sector is experiencing rapidly rising revenues.The major export pipelines in the country earned $10 billion in 2020, up nearly 50 per cent compared to $6.8 billion in 2015. The figures are included in a new report released Wednesday by the Canada Energy Regulator. Revenues have generally increased as more oil and natural gas is transported and as improvements are made to the pipeline system.
Oil pipelines in particular are operating at near capacity. As of the end of March, the Trans Mountain pipeline and TC Energy’s Keystone pipeline were both transporting more oil compared to the same time last year and operating at 100 per cent capacity, the regulator said. Meanwhile, Enbridge’s Mainline is at 92 per cent of capacity, which is slightly lower compared to last year, although activity has picked up after oil prices and production fell during the first half of 2020.
Even though no new oil pipelines have been completed in several years, companies have found ways to transport more oil using existing lines. Between 2015 and 2019, about one million barrels per day in improvements have been made, according to the Canada Energy Regulator. During the same time, oil production in the country increased by about 900,000 barrels per day.
“I think it was very important given how much growth we had in [oil] production in that period,” Darren Christie, chief economist with the Canada Energy Regulator, said in the CBC report.
“There’s been such impetus, so much value, from being able to add capacity over the last number of years, so there’s been a lot of effort to do that through optimizations, but it’s going to become increasingly challenging, I think, to continue to do that without eventually bringing in new projects to add capacity,” Christie said.
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