ERCB approves Enbridge pipeline to Sherwood Park

By Sheila Pratt, Edmonton Journal August 30, 2012

EDMONTON – Enbridge will construct a new, 400,000 barrel a day pipeline from Fort McMurray to Sherwood Park to carry bitumen as production from the oilsands continues to grow rapidly.

The new pipeline — slightly smaller than Enbridge’s proposed Northern Gateway, designed to send 585,000 barrels a day to the British Columbia coast — met few objections from landowners at a June hearing in Edmonton, according the Energy Resources Conservation Board, which announced its approval Thursday.

The 385-kilometre line, parallel to existing pipelines from the northeast, is needed to bring increasing bitumen production, specifically from Imperial Oil’s Kearl project, to Enbridge’s Edmonton hub, says the ERCB report.

Enbridge told the board its existing Waupisoo pipeline “would be operating at capacity in the near future,” making it necessary to build the new line, called the “Woodland pipeline extension.”

“The board also notes the need for the project was not challenged and was not an issue raised at the hearing.”

In approving a new pipeline, the ERCB is not concerned with where the bitumen will end up, just with the operation of the pipeline, said spokesperson Bob Curran.

Enbridge was unavailable for comment.

The ERCB approval comes just days before federal hearings resume in Edmonton into Enbridge’s controversial Northern Gateway pipeline, proposed to run from Hardisty, Alta., to Kitimat on the West Coast.

The Woodland pipeline in Alberta has no connection to Northern Gateway, which is a federally regulated project, said Curran, adding that about 7,500 kilometres of new pipeline has been added in Alberta annually in recent years.

Jennifer Grant of the Pembina Institute, an environmental research centre, said it’s important to know whether the bitumen will go into Enbridge’s U.S. pipelines for American refineries or whether the company is ramping up for the proposed Northern Gateway.

The Pembina’s view is that there is enough capacity in existing pipelines to handle current production into the U.S.

Alberta currently produces 1.7 million barrels a day from the oilsands, but a recent report from the National Energy Board said that could increase to 5 million barrels a day by 2035 if all projects go ahead.

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