Minnesota Pipe Line Co. LLC (MPL) has announced plans for a project that will use available capacity on its newest pipeline — Line 4 — to ensure the overall reliability of its pipeline system. The MPL system is the primary pipeline system that supplies crude oil to Minnesota refineries that produce much of the transportation fuels used in Minnesota and throughout the Upper Midwest.
The addition of six pump stations to MPL Line 4 and upgrades at existing stations will allow the pipeline to operate at its original design capacity of approximately 350,000 barrels per day (bpd) of crude oil when needed to meet demand. Today MPL Line 4 is configured to transport about 165,000 bpd, about half of its designed capacity. The pump stations will be located in rural areas along the route in the counties of Hubbard, Wadena, Morrison, Meeker, McLeod and Scott. No new pipeline will be installed and no new pipeline right of way will be acquired for the project.
The project will give MPL the flexibility to shift capacity to its newest pipeline in the event of an outage on other segments of the pipeline system. In addition, the project will allow for MPL to conduct maintenance on other segments of the pipeline system as needed without disrupting crude supplies to the Minnesota refineries. When MPL added Line 4 to its system in 2008, it was designed to allow for an increase in future capacity.
“The safe and reliable operation of the MPL system is always our top priority. As pipelines age, they require more frequent inspections and maintenance,” said Bob O’Hair, president of MPL. “This project will allow us to maintain the integrity and reliability of a pipeline system that is critically important to Minnesota refineries and help guard against supply disruptions similar to those that recently caused a propane and natural gas shortage.”
The project is an estimated $125 million investment and will bring increased property tax benefits to the counties where construction will occur. About 40 to 50 new construction jobs will be created. The permitting process for the project is expected to take about 20 months and pump station construction will take about another 20 months.