Enbridge says construction is now underway on the Line 3 replacement pipeline in Alberta and Saskatchewan.
Suzanne Wilton, a spokesperson for Enbridge, said construction “kicked off in earnest” at Hardisty, Alta., this week.
The work is being done by two construction crews. One is working on a section from Hardisty to Weyburn, Sask., and another on a section that runs from Rosetown, Sask., to just west of Regina.
The project will replace 1,660 kilometres of line between Hardisty, Alta. and Superior, Wis.
“The work being done right now is really in the initial stages,” Wilton said. She said that includes preparations and top soil stripping, which will be followed by the actual laying and connecting of the pipe.
“Once we actually get the pipe in the ground, we’ll be coming back to do full reclamation of those areas,” she continued. “That work is just beginning now and will continue through 2017.”
Wilton said the Calgary-based energy firm expects to begin laying pipe this summer. It has procured pipeline well in advance and stored it in various locations along the route.
“When we’re ready, it’s there and available to start laying,” she said.
Wilton said the project is about improving safety and reliability along the pipeline, but that it is expected there will be economic spinoff that will benefit both provinces.
Enbridge estimates the pipeline construction could generate some 9,000 direct and indirect jobs, financial spinoffs and business opportunities. It said Friday that communities along the route would receive added benefits and that Saskatchewan could benefit from hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenue.
WATCH BELOW: Mixed reactions for Line 3 pipeline project in Saskatchewan
“Enbridge is committed to ensuring that communities along the pipeline route, including indigenous communities, realize the significant economic benefits that will come with the project, including jobs, business opportunities and training programs,” Enbridge’s president of liquids pipelines Guy Jarvis said in a statement.
“Launching construction is an important milestone and we’re grateful for the strong support along the route, including from indigenous communities.”
The Alberta government added in a statement Friday the pipeline will mean hundreds of jobs for that province, as well.
“We’re world leaders in energy innovation and environmental stewardship and modernizing this key piece of infrastructure will help to protect Alberta’s environment, enhance the safety of this pipeline and ensure the province’s resources get to market,” the statement from Energy Minister Marg McCuaig-Boyd read.
Enbridge also announced this week that the price tag for the Line 3 replacement pipeline had risen above its original cost. It now estimates it will cost $5.3 billion to replace the Canadian portion and US$2.9 billion for the pipeline in the United States. The company said that was due to delays in the regulatory process and route modifications.
—With files from Dave Giles