Moosomin Chamber hears about Enbridge’s Line 3 replacement, coming soon

Up to 800 on a spread crew

Moosomin – With the next phase of construction on Enbridge’s Line 3 Replacement program expected to start this summer, the pipeline company is out in communities along the line, letting them know what to expect.

On April 18, several Enbridge representatives attended the Moosomin Chamber of Commerce meeting. There, Joanne Bradbury, community engagement strategist with Enbridge, gave a presentation about the coming pipeline to a highly interested audience.

She made clear that the contractors had not yet been announced, and it is up to the contractor to decide where to establish those field offices.

Historically, however, Moosomin has been the field office location for the Terrace B project in 1998 and Alberta Clipper in 2009.

The chamber meeting took place in the CanAlta hotel, one of three new hotels built in Moosomin since Alberta Clipper. And they’ll likely be needed, as the workforce in this area is expected to peak at about 800 people, and run into February, when it’s generally too cold to stay in a camper unless it’s winterized.

Bradbury noted Enbridge has been operating in Saskatchewan for 65 years.

Line 3 Replacement is anticipated starting this summer, in August.

In terms of scale, she called it, “Massive, massive.”

“It’s the biggest project we’ve undertaken in our history.”

As for the reasoning behind the project, she noted the original was built in 1968, to the highest standard at the time. However, the coating has resulted in a high number of “features” which have needed repair over the years, so in 2013, Enbridge made the decision to do a complete line replacement.

Bradbury characterized it as essentially a maintenance project, not an expansion, restoring the pipeline to its original operating capacity. In recent years it has been running at roughly half its capacity, 390,000 barrels per day, due to self-imposed pressure reductions on the existing line. With the new line, the pipeline will be able to handle 760,000 barrels per day, close to the original specification for the 1968 line.

“It is actually a replacement of our current Line 3, not an expansion,” she said. It involves 18 new pump stations in Canada. Where feasible, those are at existing sites.

There will be three 375,000-bbl. tanks built at Hardisty, Alta. Already, 400 kilometres of pipe have been put in the ground in Canada during the 2017 construction season.

The project is divided into “spreads.” Spread 1, 3 and 4 were completed last year. This year, Spread 2 (Kerrobert to West Milden), Spread 5 (Regina to Glenavon) and Spread 6 (from Langbank to Cromer, Man.) are expected to proceed in Saskatchewan. Moosomin is near the eastern end of Spread 6. A short portion was done several years ago near Enbridge’s Cromer, Man. terminal. The remaining spreads would continue towards the international border crossing at Gretna, Manitoba. The American side, running from Gretna to Superior, Wi., is handled by the American side of Enbridge.

The project’s target in-service date is for the latter half of 2019.

Once the new line is completed and in service, Enbridge will begin decommissioning work on the old Line 3. Bradbury said they will remove the oil and clean the pipeline. The old line would be taken out of service and continue to be monitored by Enbridge.

With regards to who the prime contractors will be, she said, “We anticipate a decision on the prime contractors in the next couple weeks.”

“This is a fully unionized project,” she said, noting that if anyone is seeking employment on the project, they should contact the local union hall.

The first five to seven months are the busiest, she noted, with up to 800 people working at a time per spread, and total work running for up to a year.

“As it stands right now, we are looking to start construction in early August,” she said. While they have the green light to build in Canada, they are still working on regulatory approval in Minnesota at the other end of the line.

As for why they are starting in August, she explained they cannot go prior to that due to regulatory conditions.

Local considerations

Bradbury explained that work crews, “need places to stay. There are no housing camps on this project.”

She noted building a camp takes away economic benefits from a community.

Also, neither Enbridge nor their prime contractors coordinate any accommodations. “But we do have lists, a lot of them,” she said.

The workers make their own decisions where they will stay. Generally, that will be in or near the community where the field office is located. To get on a list, she recommended  getting in touch with Enbridge via email at

As the weather turns colder and campers are no longer sufficient, many workers will seek hotel or rental accommodations. Basement suites will get full, she noted. It might be time to consider putting your place up for an AirBNB or Vacation Rental by Owner, she offered.

The average work day is from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., which is sometimes extended by overtime. Crews work six days a week, Monday to Saturday. The bulk of the crew is bussed from the field office to the right-of-way.

Bradbury encouraged local businesses to make themselves accessible when the workers are in town. As an example, she suggested, “These guys like to get up and go for a nice big breakfast, at 5 a.m.”

She also added they like to, and due to environmental controls, often need to wash their trucks frequently. Therefore, car wash services will be in high demand.

“With one day off, most can’t go home,” she said. So there is often a desire to do recreational things nearby. However, if a business is closed on Sunday, they will miss out on that clientele.

The workers need access to laundry, groceries and banking, she explained. In the summer, their families will often come and stay with them, and they’ll be looking for recreation on the weekend.

“The crew has very limited personal time,” Bradbury said. So offering bag lunches, for instance, can go over well.

She alluded to the need to stay competitive on prices, noting the workers will be minding their dollars as there are not as many infrastructure projects for them to work on, due to the negativity towards pipelines. “They have to be selective on purchasing,” she said.

Bradbury also mentioned local inclusion and Indigenous inclusion in the project. There will be several Indigenous monitors on each spread, for instance.

In questions from the floor, she was asked how long the influx would last. In response, Bradbury said five to seven months, with crews starting in small numbers at first, then rapidly building to hundreds within a few weeks. “The biggest influx is the welding crew,” she said.

The same contractor is expected to work on both Spreads 5 and 6. From Pipeline News’prior experience and due to the configuration of the sidebooms, the work usually runs from west to east, from Regina to Moosomin.

By February, most of the construction is complete, and reclamation work continues.

Asked about when the decommissioning of the old line would take place, she replied it would be a separate phase of work.

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