Line 3 Replacement Program

Petroleum products are an essential part of our everyday lives. They fuel our cars, heat our homes, power industry, schools and hospitals, and are turned into hundreds of consumer goods, from clothing to cosmetics to cellphones. But before those products materialize, crude oil must be refined into petroleum.

Built in the 1960s, Line 3 is a 1,097-mile crude oil pipeline extending from Edmonton, Alberta to Superior, Wisconsin, and is an integral part of Enbridge's Mainline System. Enbridge is proposing to replace Line 3 to maintain our high safety standards, reduce future maintenance activities and create fewer disruptions to landowners and the environment, and restore the historical operating capabilities of Line 3. A new 36-inch diameter pipeline will replace the existing 34-inch diameter pipeline along most of the Line 3 route. In the U.S., the replacement pipeline will follow Enbridge's existing Line 3 route from Joliette, North Dakota to Clearbrook, Minnesota, and then will primarily follow existing pipeline and transmission routes from Clearbrook to Superior, Wisconsin.

Why Minnesota needs Line 3

Line 3 has been, and continues to be, an essential component of Enbridge’s pipeline transportation network to deliver the crude oil needed by refiners, and used by residents. The replacement of Line 3 will ensure that Enbridge can transport the crude oil required by refiners in Minnesota, neighboring states, Eastern Canada and the Gulf Coast. As with the existing Line 3, the Project will be operationally integrated as part of the Enbridge Mainline System and will continue to transport crude oil from Hardisty, Alberta, Canada to Superior, Wisconsin.

Project benefits:

  • Jobs: Provide approximately 1,500 construction jobs in Minnesota, with the expectation that half of the construction jobs will be filled locally.
  • Economic activity: A $1.2-billion boost to U.S. economy during design and construction; a local and regional economic boost during construction from the purchase of local products/materials and use of local hotels, restaurants and services.
  • Long-term property taxes: Increase property tax revenue in each county crossed by the Project. Enbridge pays more than $30 million in Minnesota property taxes annually; this will increase incrementally by $19.5 million beginning the first full year of service.
  • Support for Minnesota refineries: The Line 3 Replacement Project will reduce apportionment, and continue reliable crude oil delivery; and provide energy savings on a per-barrel basis.

Line 3 map

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Enbridge's Ecofootprint Grant Program funds grassroots projects near our Line 3 Replacement Project right-of-way that help protect and restore the natural environment.

Project Information:

Project Scope

  • The Line 3 Replacement (L3R) Program, a $7.5 billion private investment, consists of 1,031 miles of 36-inch diameter pipeline beginning in Hardisty, Alberta and ending in Superior, Wisconsin; it is one of North America's largest infrastructure programs, supporting North American energy independence. 
  • The U.S. portion of the Program that Enbridge is proposing is known as the L3R Project; the Project consists of replacing existing 34-inch pipe with new 36-inch pipe across 13 miles in North Dakota, 337 miles in Minnesota and 14 miles in Wisconsin. 
  • Overall cost of the Project is estimated at $2.6 billion in the U.S ($2.1 billion in Minnesota).
  • The Project will also include construction of four new pump stations, upgrades to four existing pump stations, and approximately 27 strategically placed valves.
  • In Minnesota, the replacement pipeline will follow the existing Line 3 route from the North Dakota/Minnesota border east to Enbridge's Clearbrook Terminal in Clearwater County, Minnesota. From Clearbrook, the replacement will follow four existing pipelines south from Clearbrook to Hubbard County, then turn east following portions of existing electrical transmission lines, before rejoining the Enbridge Mainline corridor near Chub Lake and continuing in a southeasterly direction to the Minnesota-Wisconsin state border in Carlton County, Minnesota.
  • The Project’s Certificate of Need and Route Permit applications were filed with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (MPUC) on April 24, 2015, and accepted as complete on July 1, 2015.
  • The Project will undergo a regulatory approval process before the replacement pipeline can be constructed.
  • After the replacement pipeline is built, the existing pipeline will be deactivated in accordance with federal regulations.


Enbridge is responsible for its pipelines, whether they are active or not. Enbridge will continue to monitor the deactivated pipeline and maintain the right-of-way. Once the Line 3 Replacement pipeline becomes operational, the existing Line 3 will be permanently deactivated in place.

Deactivation facts

  • Independent engineering research and analysis, as well as historical knowledge of out-of-service pipelines, have determined that deactivated pipelines with adequate cover will have a very long remaining life as load-bearing structures, even after many decades of deactivation. Enbridge will continue monitoring the right-of-way and mitigate concerns related to our pipeline should a need develop that impacts public safety, the environment or land use.
  • Environmental regulatory requirements prohibit altering current hydrology. Therefore, the Line 3 deactivation process will protect water resources to ensure that the deactivated pipeline will not drain any fields, lakes, rivers, streams or other wetland areas.
  • Enbridge has a vested interest in ensuring that any deactivated pipeline does not compromise land use or the integrity of the other pipelines that share the right-of-way.
  • Enbridge will continue to operate the existing pipeline safely while the new pipeline is installed, because refineries in the Midwest served by the pipeline rely on continuous deliveries of crude oil to provide the gasoline, heating oil, and other products that we use every day.

The deactivation process

  1. Remove the oil from the pipeline: The pipeline is purged of product using an inert gas.
  2. Clean the pipeline: A combination of Pipeline Cleaning Tools (pigs) and cleaning solutions are used to wipe and clean the pipeline.
  3. Disconnect the pipeline: The pipeline is physically disconnected and sealed off from the active operational facilities.
  4. Segmenting the pipeline: Further isolation is employed to protect water resources with the use of the permanent closure of pipeline valves or other means, including cutting and plating.
  5. Monitor the pipeline: Cathodic protection will continue to be applied as needed to protect adjacent pipelines and third party utilities.
  6. Monitor the right-of-way: The pipeline will continue to be monitored with regular pipeline patrols, pipeline signs indicating location, depth of cover surveys and inclusion in “Call Before You Dig” programs.