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Crude starts to flow to Superior

The 1000-mile long Alberta Clipper pipeline connecting Alberta, Canada to Superior started flowing with crude oil Thursday. This doesn't mean the pipeline is full of crude oil yet. Enbridge Energy Pipeline's Denise Hamsher says it'll take at leas...

The 1000-mile long Alberta Clipper pipeline connecting Alberta, Canada to Superior started flowing with crude oil Thursday.

This doesn't mean the pipeline is full of crude oil yet. Enbridge Energy Pipeline's Denise Hamsher says it'll take at least five months to creep its way to their Superior facility.

"So while one would think of this like a hose or water line, it's a little bit more complex," she said.

From Superior, it'll snake across Wisconsin to the Chicago area and refineries there. Hamsher says refinery demand is down.

"So this never was intended to feed a growing appetite for refined products. What it does is shift the source of crude oil supply that's diminishing from other parts of the U.S. or other parts of the world."

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In fact, 97 percent of the crude in this pipeline will bypass the state's only refinery in Superior. Even so, Murphy Oil Manager Dave Podratz says he's glad the line is operating.

"It makes the supply of crude oil for us a little bit more secure, a little bit more reliable. For the most part that additional crude oil is going down to other refineries."

Since the crude is coming from the tar sands of Alberta, the National Wildlife Federation has opposed this pipeline from the start. Jenny Pelej is the coordinator of their "Dirty Fields Campaign." She says processing oil from tar sands emits high levels of carbon dioxide.

"This is, for us, a time when we need to be investing in homegrown, U.S. clean energy jobs and fighting to reduce global warming. And turning to Canada for dirty fields is the wrong way to go."

This pipeline will eventually carry 800,000 barrels per day, while the Alberta Oil Sands is expected to make more than a million barrels a day when it gets into full production.

Related Topics: SUPERIOR
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