Upon confirmation of support from shippers wanting to contract for capacity on the diluent line, Enbridge will seek support from crude oil shippers for the required reconfiguration of the mainline system. Support from both groups will be required to advance the project.
The Southern Lights pipeline is being proposed in response to interest from a number of shippers to enhance the availability of diluent in Western Canada. The fluid is required to transport heavy oil and bitumen being produced in increasing volumes in Alberta. Assuming on-time completion of most major oilsands’ projects publicly announced to date, Enbridge forecasts that the demand for imported diluent could reach 300,000brl/d by early in the next decade. The combination of Enbridge’s 150,000brl/d Gateway condensate import pipeline, along with Southern Lights, will meet this need. Light hydrocarbon streams suitable for diluent purposes are becoming increasingly scarce in Alberta, but are relatively plentiful in the Pacific Basin and the US Midwest.
The major elements of the Southern Lights pipeline project include a diluent line from Chicago to Edmonton, achieved by:
(a) constructing 1085-km of 16-in pipe from the Chicago area to Clearbrook, Minnesota. Approximately 711km of this construction utilizes the same right-of-way as Enbridge’s Southern Access expansion between Flanagan, Illinois (just west of Chicago) and Superior, Wisconsin. The pipeline between Superior, Wisconsin and Clearbrook, Minnesota will follow the system’s existing right-of-way.
(b) reversing the flow of Enbridge’s line 13 from Clearbrook to Edmonton.
(c) Additionally, Enbridge plans to construct a new 20-in pipeline to transport 185,000brl/d of light sour crude oil from Cromer, Manitoba, to Clearbrook, and expand its existing Line 2. The result of these changes to the existing crude oil system is to increase effective light crude system capacity by 45,000brl/d from Edmonton to the US Midwest. The Southern Lights pipeline will also share in the operating cost of the system between Edmonton and the US Midwest.
The preliminary estimated cost of the Southern Lights project is $920 million, and it is anticipated to be in service in 2009, coinciding with the completion of the Southern Access project.