Pipeline company seeks approval on $125 million expansion project

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Minnesota Pipe Line Co. is asking permission from state regulators to double the capacity of an oil pipeline that runs from northwestern Minnesota to the Twin Cities.

MPR News reports the company filed notice with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission on Thursday. If approved Minnesota Pipe Line would roughly double the pipeline's capacity from 165,000 barrels of crude oil per day to about 350,000 barrels per day.

According to the Star Tribune, the company plans to do this by investing $125 million to maximize the capacity of its largest of four pipelines that supply the state's only two oil refineries. The project would add six pump stations, but would not require the construction of new pipeline or the acquisition of new right of way.

"These energy products are really critical to the state and to surrounding states as well, because of what these two refineries produce," said Bob O'Hair Minnesota Pipe Line President to MPR. "That's all the gasoline for our cars, jet fuel for the planes, diesel for tractors and trucks so it's an important part of the economy that the supply is stable."

The pipeline stretches from near Clearbrook to the Twin Cities and is operated by Koch Pipeline Company. It carries crude from both North Dakota and Canada.

Minnesota Pipe Line Co. owns three other pipelines, but the system is at capacity.

O'Hair told MPR, "That would be fine if you never needed to work on any of the other pipelines or take them out of service to do preventative maintenance but our first and foremost responsibility and priority is that these pipelines operate safely and efficiently."

In addition to upgrades to the existing stations near Albany and Clearbrook, The Associated Press reports new pumping stations would be built in rural areas of the following counties:

–Hubbard

–Wadena

–Morrison

–Meeker

–McLeod

–Scott

"We think this is an essential project. It really is needed," said Jake Reint, spokesman for Flint Hills Resources and the Koch Pipeline Co to the Associated Press.

The project is estimated to create 40 to 50 construction jobs. According to the AP, the company expects the permitting process to take about 20 months and the actual construction to take another 20 months.

It is smaller and unrelated to the Enbridge Alberta Clipper line also making its way through Minnesota's regulatory process.

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