Following a blistering federal assessment of its contributions to a 2010 oil spill near Michigan's Kalamazoo River, Canadian company Enbridge Energy Partners, Calgary, Alberta, says it will begin work this month on a $1.9-billion program to replace a pipeline extending from Griffith, Ind., to Marysville, Mich., including the segment involved in the 800,000-gallon spill.
In all, plans call for replacing 285 miles of pipeline, with work set to conclude on a 75-mile span through LaPorte, Ind., and Niles, Mich., by year's end. A second phase will increase the line's current daily capacity from 243,000 barrels to more than 500,000 barrels. The pipeline – known as 6B – transports crude oil and liquid petroleum products between Griffiths and Sarnia, Ontario, Canada.
Enbridge spokesman Joe Martucci told reporters the project should satisfy spiking demand for North American oil, particularly among regional refineries that produce gasoline, kerosene, jet fuel and asphalt. He also indicated the company decided to proceed with the project after inspection data indicated that portions of the pipeline would require growing numbers of repairs in the future. Since its installation in 1969, the pipeline has undergone frequent and costly repairs.
Among other features, the new pipeline will incorporate heavier walls and a new fusion bond in accordance with new federal safety standards.
Earlier this week, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) blamed multiple corrosion cracks and "pervasive organizational failures" at Enbridge for the 2010 spill. NTSB indicated that Enbridge noticed cracks in the 30-in.-dia pipeline as early as 2005 but didn't repair them.
The ensuing rupture in the pipeline resulted in the most expensive on-shore oil spill in U.S. history.
At the 2012 TD Calgary Energy Conference on Wednesday, Enbridge President Alan Monaco told reporters his company has made significant improvements in safety procedures since the spill.