Minn. pipeline firm wants to expand capacity

Minnesota Pipe Line Company pumping station
A Minnesota Pipe Line Company pumping station near Albany, Minn.
Minnesota Pipe Line Company via AP

Minnesota Pipe Line Co. is seeking permission from state regulators to double the capacity of an oil pipeline that runs from Clearbrook in northwestern Minnesota to the Twin Cities.

The company has asked the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission to approve its plans to double the capacity of its Line 4 pipeline, built in 2008 to carry 165,000 barrels of crude oil per day. The company filed notice with the commission today to roughly increase its capacity to 350,000 barrels per day.

The project involves adding six pump stations which are needed to ensure the line's reliability, Minnesota Pipe Line President Bob O'Hair said.

"These energy products are really critical to the state and to surrounding states as well because of what these two refineries produce," O'Hair said. "That's all the gasoline for our cars, jet fuel for the planes, diesel for tractors and trucks and so it's an important part of the economy that that supply is stable."

The pipeline is operated by Koch Pipeline Company and carries crude oil from both North Dakota and Canada. Environmental groups have criticized projects aiming to carry more oil from Canada on the grounds that its extraction is linked to climate change.

Minnesota Pipe Line Co. owns three other pipelines, but O'Hair said the system is currently at capacity.

"That would be fine if you never needed to work on any of the other pipelines or take them out of service to do preventative maintenance but our first and foremost responsibility and priority is that these pipelines operate safely and efficiently," he said.

The project is smaller than the Enbridge Alberta Clipper line, another pipeline capacity project making its way through the regulatory process in Minnesota.

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