MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Minnesota Pipe Line Co. announced plans Thursday to nearly double the capacity of a crude oil pipeline that carries oil from Canada and North Dakota to the two refineries in the Twin Cities that produce most of Minnesota's and much of Wisconsin's transportation fuels.
The company said it will ask the Public Utilities Commission to approve six new pumping stations and upgrades at two existing stations so that the newest of its four pipelines can carry 350,000 barrels per day from Clearbrook in northwestern Minnesota to the Flint Hills Refinery in Rosemount and the Northern Tier Refinery in St. Paul Park. The project will not require the construction of new pipelines or the acquisition of new right of way, it said.
"We think this is an essential project. It really is needed," said Jake Reint, spokesman for Flint Hills Resources and the Koch Pipeline Co.
Minnesota Pipe Line President Bob O'Hair said the Line 4 upgrade is intended to provide more reliable crude supplies to the two refineries by letting it carry more oil when the company's three older pipelines are taken out of service for maintenance and inspections or experience outages. The upgrade is not meant for increasing overall oil deliveries to the two refineries, which he said are already running at close to capacity most of the time.
Minnesota Pipe Line is a joint venture by the two refineries. Koch Pipelines operates all four lines, which run from Enbridge Energy's distribution terminal in Clearbrook to the Twin Cities. The three oldest lines follow a corridor established in the 1950s. Line 4, which went into operation in 2008, follows the same corridor for 118 miles but branches off in Morrison County of central Minnesota and takes a more southerly route though less-developed areas. The system currently has a capacity of 465,000 barrels per day.