Some businesses in Minnesota are seeing “beyond remarkable” increases in customers and sales thanks to construction of the Line 3 Replacement Project.
“There are more customers here every day buying gas, supplies and other things they need before and after they go to or from the construction site,” says Bill Schroeder, owner of Pete’s Place West, a convenience store near Bemidji, Minnesota, on the website Minnesotans for Line 3.
“Seeing things change so much for the better has helped us and energized our community. We cannot immediately replace what was lost last year but Line 3 is making a major difference and we just hope nothing happens now to stop the work.”
More than 5,200 people are currently building the pipeline project, owner Enbridge says, up from about 1,000 when construction started in December.
Minnesotans for Line 3 is “a statewide coalition of people who support replacing Line 3 with something that is newer, better, and more efficient than the current line that was built in the 1960s,” the group said in a statement to the Canadian Energy Centre.
“We have more than 100,000 people from all 87 Minnesota counties including businesses, chambers of commerce, trades and labor groups, elected officials, and others who have spent years of time attending meetings, making calls, sharing stories, putting up signs, and making sure regulators know how important it is for this project to be approved and completed.”
Members include Mike Totleben, owner of The Gateway Motel in Hallock, Minn. He said the motel is now fully rented by people working on the Line 3 Replacement project after most rooms remained empty through much of 2020.
“The COVID-19 pandemic wiped out most of our customers last year, making it even harder for a business like mine to make it,” Totleben said. “Line 3 construction is now really pulling us out of a rough patch at a time when our entire community really needed it.”
It has been a similar experience for Alex Yaggie, owner of the Red River Ag store in Plummer, Minn.
“Last year we were looking at what we would need to do to survive what had been a very hard year. Now we are looking at how much more we can do to serve our new customers,” Yaggie said. “This came at the right time for us and will help our bottom line long into the future.”
For decades, Line 3 has helped safely move oil and petroleum products from Canada to refineries in Minnesota and other markets in the US and eastern Canada.
Northern Minnesota for about 540 kilometres is the final leg of the Line 3 project’s 1,600-kilometre route from Hardisty, Alberta to Superior, Wisconsin. The project is replacing the existing pipeline that was built in the 1960s with a new, larger and stronger pipeline that incorporates advanced technologies to improve safety and environmental protection.
Overall US imports of Canadian crude oil and petroleum products continue to increase despite the surge in US oil production over the last decade, reaching a record 4.8 million barrels per day December 2019, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Minnesota has no domestic oil production – its two refineries are primarily served by Enbridge pipelines.
Over 98 per cent of Minnesota private landowners along the Line 3 replacement route have signed easements allowing the project to proceed, Enbridge says.
“If Line 3 is not replaced, more oil goes on train cars that are not as safe,” says Minnesotans for Line 3.
“If the project were to be stopped, thousands of workers would lose their jobs and communities who need economic support would lose the new customers and spending Line 3 is bringing to Minnesota.”
The project is approximately 32 per cent complete, Enbridge says. It is expected to go into service before the end of 2021.