“Landmark” Pipeline Decommissioning in Manitoba
First segment of Enbridge’s legacy Line 3 safely taken out of service
By David Coll
“The CAEPLA workshops we held every year were very well attended. We received a lot of honest feedback from landowners that we incorporated into our activities and the project was all the better for it.”
For more than 50 years, Enbridge’s Line 3 pipeline ensured the safe and reliable delivery of energy from the oilfields of Alberta to the Midwestern U.S. and refineries across North America.
Its legacy continues with a new pipeline along essentially the same corridor, stretching 1,765 kilometres (1,097 miles) from Edmonton, Alta., to Superior, Wis. Line 93, as the replacement pipeline is named, came into service Oct. 1 following more than eight years of extensive community engagement and thorough environmental, regulatory and legal review.
“CAEPLA was heavily involved in the Line 3 project, from construction through reclamation and decommissioning,” says Enbridge construction manager Allen Sawatzky. “CAEPLA monitors provided a landowner’s perspective to the construction team and the CAEPLA workshops we held every year were very well attended. We received a lot of honest feedback from landowners that we incorporated into our activities and the project was all the better for it.”
“This was a landmark undertaking that has redefined how Enbridge builds major projects,” says Guy Krepps, Line 3 project director in Canada. “The new pipeline was designed and executed with state-of-the-art construction materials and a strong safety and environmental performance. The level of public engagement, which included Indigenous communities and groups, was unprecedented and led to a better outcome, both for Enbridge and communities near the right-of-way.”
In Canada, Line 93 has been operating since December 2019, leading to a focus on reclaiming the pipeline construction right-of-way and safely removing the legacy Line 3 pipeline from service, a process known as decommissioning.
Decommissioning of the first of four segments began in August and was completed ahead of schedule in Manitoba by mid-October, thanks in part to a dry summer and fall, with zero safety or environmental incidents.
A joint venture of Métis N4 Construction and Steel River Solutions served as the general contractor for an area covering 260 km from Cromer to Gretna, Man., with a peak workforce of 55 people. Indigenous men and women comprised approximately 75 per cent of the workforce.
“Decommissioning is a logistically challenging job that N4-Steel River handled very successfully,” says Sawatzky. “It’s different than building a pipeline—you don’t just work from kilometre zero to kilometre 100 in a straight line. You go back-and-forth, from site to site, and this particular job involved 31 different locations for segmentation, valve isolation and railway fill.”
Inspector Sandy Armstrong shows a section of pipe following installation of a steel cap. After the pipe segment is cut, a cap is fabricated onto the ends of the pipe and coated with epoxy. This permanently seals the pipeline at that location and backfill can then be completed.
Once the cap is in place, backfilling of the excavation begins.
With backfill completed and the topsoil replaced, the land is ready to be returned to its pre-construction state.
A worker looks on during removal of a valve south of Morden, Man.
Vehicles and equipment were washed and disinfected under a strict biosecurity protocol to prevent the spread of noxious weeds.
Inclusion was an important component of the Manitoba project, with the selection of an Indigenous-owned general contractor and approximately 75 per cent of the decommissioning workforce made up of Indigenous men and women. From left: Travis Favel (Enbridge); Ellis Cochrane (Peguis First Nation); Dennis Esperance (Enbridge); and Jade Dewar (Manitoba Métis Federation).