Enbridge's Line 3 pipeline delayed 1 year

Enbridge's Line 3 pipeline replacement is being pushed back a year, the company announced Friday.

Calgary-based company waiting for U.S. state permits to be approved

A pipefitter lays finishing touches on a portion of the replacement of Enbridge's Line 3 pipeline in August 2017. (Richard Tsong-Taatarii/Star Tribune/The Associated Press)

Enbridge's Line 3 pipeline replacement is being pushed back a year, the company announced Friday.

The project, which was initially expected to be in service before the end of 2019, now won't be ready until the second half of 2020.

Permits from the state of Minnesota were expected to be finalized by the second quarter of 2019, but now they won't be provided until November, with U.S. federal permits expected to be finalized one to two months later.

"We now have a firm schedule from the state on the timing of the remaining permits for our Line 3 replacement project," Al Monaco, CEO of the Calgary-based company, said in a release. The company said its permit applications were all submitted by October 2018.

Just two weeks ago, Enbridge had said it was confident the $9-billion project would be in service this year.

The pipeline would export crude from Hardisty, Alta., to Superior, Wis., where it would connect with pipelines to the U.S. Gulf Coast.

It would replace an aging pipeline, restoring its capacity from 370,000 barrels per day to its original 760,000 barrels per day.

Construction began on the Canadian portion of Line 3's replacement in 2017 and the project is largely completed — but it has faced challenges in Minnesota, where the state's governor has pursued an appeal, siding with environmental and Indigenous groups opposed to the pipeline.

The $9-billion project to export crude from Alberta to Superior, Wis., where it will connect with pipelines to the U.S. Gulf Coast, is needed by shippers and will create jobs, Enbridge CEO Al Monaco said earlier this month. (Canadian Press)

Environmental groups fighting the project have said it will aggravate climate change, and they worry leaks could happen over the Mississippi River headwaters region — land that is used for the traditional harvest of wild rice.

It's not the only major pipeline to be facing major delays. The Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, which Ottawa bought from Kinder Morgan last year, is once again stalled as it awaits further regulatory review and TransCanada's Keystone XL has been frustrated by court challenges.

A lack of pipeline space has been blamed for a glut of Canadian oil, leading to steep price discounts, production curtailments and pro-pipeline protests.