Pipeline

An oil pipeline that runs through northeast Meeker County would nearly double its capacity through the installation of several pump stations, including one planned for north of Litchfield, according to a Minnesota Pipe Line Co. proposal.

Built in 2008, the 300-mile pipeline, known as Line No. 4, delivers oil to three refineries in the Twin Cities area, and the planned upgrades would ensure those refineries have a reliable supply of crude, company officials say. By increasing Line No. 4’s capacity from 165,000 barrels per day to 350,000 barrels per day, the company would have greater flexibility to shift capacity throughout its entire pipeline system.

Key to increasing capacity is installing six new pump stations, such as the one planned for Forest City Township at the intersection of 305th Street and 670th Avenue. A company official said last week the project is expected to have “very little impact on neighbors in Meeker County,” adding that the pump station would be located on land already owned by Minnesota Pipe Line Co.

Jake Reint, project spokesman, said the pump station would operate at a noise level of about 60 decibels, about equivalent to a conversation or dishwasher.

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission is reviewing Minnesota Pipe Line’s proposed upgrades, and the public can comment on the proposal through March 20. If the commission grants approval, the project would likely begin next year, Reint said.

At a Feb. 25 public hearing in Litchfield, Eden Valley Mayor Brent Bengtson asked how increasing the pipeline’s capacity would affect the integrity of the pipeline itself, which is two feet in diameter. Bengston said he doesn’t oppose the project, but the line runs near the city of Eden Valley and a rupture could put the city at risk.

“If they’re boosting capacity on that current line, is that going to expose additional flaws?” Bengtson asked. He attended the meeting to “go on record” with his concerns, he said, though he felt satisfied that the company would take adequate safety measures and had a plan in place for inspections and maintenance.

Reint said the pipeline was originally designed to handle the proposed capacity increase, adding that the line’s operating pressure will remain the same as current levels.