March 27, 2019 / 5:02 PM / 6 months ago

Minnesota regulator confirms approval of Enbridge oil pipeline

CALGARY, Alberta, March 27 (Reuters) - A Minnesota regulator has confirmed its approval of Enbridge Inc’s Line 3 crude oil pipeline replacement, allowing the $7 billion project to move forward, the company said on Wednesday.

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission initially approved Enbridge’s plan to rebuild the aging 1,031-mile (1,660 km) pipeline that runs from Alberta in Western Canada to the U.S. state of Wisconsin in June, but that decision was challenged by Minnesota’s governor in February. [nL1N1TU1D9}

On Tuesday the PUC denied all petitions asking for its decision to be reconsidered, according to minutes of the meeting. Minnesota PUC spokesman Dan Wolf said a formal order will be issued soon.

“The PUC confirmed its decision to approve the conditions placed on L3R’s (Line 3 Replacement) Certificate of Need – conditions meant to protect Minnesotans – allowing this critical energy infrastructure modernization project to move forward,” Enbridge said in a statement.

The decision clears a hurdle for the pipeline and is welcome news for Canadian oil producers struggling with congestion on export pipelines as crude production increases.

Earlier this month Enbridge said the Line 3 replacement project will be delayed by almost a year until the second half of 2020 while the project awaits state and federal permits.

Line 3, which began service in 1968, currently operates at half its capacity. Its replacement would allow it to return to approved capacity of 760,000 barrels per day.

Enbridge shares were down 0.2 percent at C$48.90 on Wednesday afternoon on the Toronto Stock Exchange. (Reporting by Nia Williams in Calgary, Alberta Editing by Matthew Lewis)

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