As part of the Line 3 Replacement Program, the existing Line 3 pipeline will be decommissioned—and Enbridge will be responsible for the decommissioned line forever.
In the Canadian pipeline industry, a line is said to be decommissioned when its operations permanently cease, but its end users along that right-of-way do not see a discontinuance of service. Using a traffic analogy, when one lane of a four-lane highway is closed down, traffic still uses the remaining lanes to travel from city to city.
In advance of the potential decommissioning of a line, engineering and environmental assessments are completed in consultation with landowners. And once the National Energy Board approves a decommission application, the process generally involves:
The process does not end there. Enbridge is committed to monitoring decommissioned lines, just as we do with active lines, in various ways. They include:
Generally speaking, Enbridge leaves a decommissioned line in place to avoid major construction activities, and to reduce the risk of soil stability issues that could compromise the integrity of operating pipelines sharing the right-of-way.
This also means refraining from using the heavy equipment that would be needed to excavate and remove the buried pipeline – and that reduces the risk involved with maintaining the safe operation of those other pipelines.
A more thorough explanation of the L3RP's decommissioning process can be found in our application and Project Description document, which have been filed with the NEB.