Capacity to increase on lesser-known Line 7

By Paul Morden, from   The Observer

Work to boost the capacity of Enbridge’s Line 7 oil pipeline from Sarnia to Westover, Ont., is expected to carried out next month.

The project to expand the pipeline’s capacity from 147,000 to 180,000 barrels a day received approval in October from the National Energy Board.

Enbridge spokesperson Graham White said an inert polymer chemical, known as a “drag-reducing agent,” will be injected into the line to reduce friction between the pipe wall and the oil. That will increase the line’s capacity without the need to increase the diameter of the pipe, or the pressure, he said.

“It’s a fairly common procedure in the pipeline industry.”

The line, built in 1957, carries western oil from Sarnia to Westover, Ontario, White said.

The work to expand the line’s capacity followed a request from eastern refineries for an increase in access to supplies of western oil, he said.

White said Line 7 went through a series of inspections between 2011 and 2013.

“The line is in very good shape, it’s very safe and we’ve been able to verify that recently,” he said.

Information about the project was sent to 14 municipalities along the pipeline, including Sarnia and Lambton County, as well as First Nations, White said.

“There will be no discernible difference from operations for anyone in the public, or landowners, or any other stakeholders,” he said.

Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley said the city received two notices about the Line 7 project, but council didn’t raise any concerns.

The Ontario Pipeline Landowners Association asked the National Energy Board to hold a full hearing into Enbridge’s plans but the board said it wasn’t warranted.

White said Enbridge is expecting a decision soon from the National Energy Board on the company’s more widely-known application to reverse the flow of oil in its Line 9 pipeline running from North Westover to Montreal. The board has already approved a reversal in the flow on the section of Line 9 from Sarnia to North Westover.

Built in the 1970s, Line 9 originally sent western oil east but the flow was reversed in the 1990s to carry then-cheaper offshore oil west.

As well as returning the pipeline’s flow to its original direction, Enbridge wants to expand Line 9’s capacity from 240,000 to 300,000 barrels a day.

The Line 9 reversal plan has attracted opposition from environmental groups.

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