Oil has started to flow through Flanagan South pipeline, a newly-completed Canadian project that’s bringing heavy crude from collection terminals in Illinois to an Oklahoma storage hub.
Following more than eight months of construction and a two-week process for filling the 36-inch diameter line, Flanagan South made its initial delivery last week to an Enbridge Energy facility in Cushing, according to a spokeswoman for the company.
“The first oil hit here earlier this week,” Enbridge’s Lara Burhenn said Friday from the storage site. “We’re very happy with the results.”
Built at a cost of $2.6 billion, the Flanagan South line has the capacity to transport nearly 600,000 barrels of the controversial crude oil per day.
The diluted bitumen product being carried through the line originates from the Baken region of North Dakota and western Canada. It is eventually destined for refineries on the Texas Gulf Coast via an expanded Seaway Pipeline system, Enbridge officials said.
Flanagan South’s product begins arriving at a time when crude stocks at the Cushing storage hub reportedly had fallen to nearly a minimum-operating capacity.
The newest Enbridge pipeline was constructed adjacent to the company’s existing Spearhead line, which has been in operation since the 1950s. Along its 600-mile path, Flanagan South crosses four states and 31 U.S. counties — including eight in Illinois, 11 in Missouri, seven in Kansas and four in Oklahoma.
After passing to the west of Caney, Kan., the Flanagan South line enters Oklahoma between Copan and Hulah lakes. Its route extends more than seven miles along the western edge of Washington County before moving through Osage County on a 50-mile southwesterly slash.
Midway across Oklahoma’s largest county, the pipeline passes through a new Pershing pump station built for Enbridge 10 miles south of Pawhuska by the Price Gregory Co. The Flanagan South project required the construction of six other pump stations, Burhenn said, including one in Humboldt, Kan.
According to the Calgary, Alberta, company’s website, Enbridge operates the largest, longest, and most complex petroleum pipeline system in the world — delivering an average in excess of 2.2-million barrels of crude oil per day through more than 15,000 miles of pipeline.
The liquified “tar sands” material being transported in the Flanagan South line is the same as what is planned to be carried by Keystone XL, the planned pipeline of another Calgary-based company, TransCanada. The Keystone XL project has been stalled while awaiting U.S. government approval.
Because the Enbridge project does not cross into the United States via the border with Canada, construction on it was able to proceed without the company being formally approved by the U.S. State Department.
In November 2013, Enbridge also benefitted from a favorable federal court ruling on a lawsuit filed by the Sierra Club and National Wildlife Federation. The judge in the case denied a challenge to the permit process of the U.S, Army Corps of Engineers which allowed the Flanagan South project to proceed without going through public hearings required for Environmental Impact Studies.