Minnesota oil pipeline gets approval

Proposed pipeline route
The proposed route for the new crude oil pipeline would run from west of Bemidji in northern Minnesota to two oil refineries in the southeast metro area.
Map courtesy of Minnesota Pipe Line Co.

(AP) - The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission voted Thursday to approve a $300 million oil pipeline that would deliver 165,000 barrels of crude oil a day from Canada to refineries south of the Twin Cities.

PUC Executive Secretary Burl Haar said the commission approved both the certificate of need and the actual route for the pipeline, with some modifications and requirements that the company building the line must address issues raised by affected landowners.

Private landowners in the line's path have complained, expressing worries about potential spills, and environmentalists say expanded use of renewable energy sources eventually will make the pipeline unnecessary.

But government forecasts indicate that increased use of renewable energy sources won't fill the state's energy demand.

"This project is reacting to the need that exists right now and in the immediate future," said Patty Dunn, spokesman for Minnesota Pipeline Co.

The proposed 24-inch underground line would run 304 miles from Clearbrook to Rosemount, circling west and south of the Twin Cities.

About one-third of the pipeline's length would run along an existing pipeline, but some 176 miles would cut a new path, affecting 1,100 landowners.

The pipeline would deliver Canadian crude oil to the Pine Bend in Rosemount - owned by Flint Hills Resources - and the Marathon Petroleum refinery in St. Paul Park.

The two refineries process now process a total of 349,300 42-gallon barrels of oil a day, supplied by existing pipelines.

The existing options for transporting Canadian crude into Minnesota will not meet demand by the end of this year, a pipeline company official told state regulators.

Construction on the pipeline will begin this summer and is expected to take eight months, Minnesota Pipeline Co. said. The line is expected to be in full operation in 2008.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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