CALGARY—The National Energy Board has approved Enbridge Inc.’s plan to reverse the flow of part of an oil pipeline in southern Ontario.
The federal watchdog says it has imposed 15 conditions on the $16.9-million project, mainly having to do with pipeline integrity.
Line 9 currently flows from Montreal to Sarnia, Ont., but Enbridge wants it reconfigured to flow from west to east.
Refiners in central and eastern Canada want to use Canadian crude instead of pricier oil imported by tanker from overseas.
The NEB approval pertains to the section of pipe between Sarnia, Ont., and Westover, Ont., near Hamilton.
In May the board held hearings where it heard concerns from the public about possible spills from the pipeline.
Labour Minister Lisa Pratt, a former natural resources minister, said the NEB decision is “quite important” as it helps improve pipeline access to Canada’s coasts and customers in the U.S.
Raitt said the reversal reflects what customers want and need and keeps Canada’s oil flowing in a way that is most economic, adding that customers on the east coast will be able to receive cheaper crude from North America rather than have to import it from abroad.
“Energy is a matter of national importance and the government welcomes efforts to better utilize our energy assets for the benefit of Canadians from coast to coast to coast,” Raitt said.
“So in this respect the expansion and the diversification of our energy markets is one of our priorities.”
Enbridge rival TransCanada Corp. is also working on a plan to ship western Canadian crude east. It’s looking at converting its gas mainline, which is running part-empty, to gas service. It could ship between 400,000 and 900,000 barrels-per-day of oil, depending on customer demand.