The Enbridge name is relatively new in terms of the Sarnia-Montreal pipeline debate. The Line 9 pipeline was built in 1976. At that time, it was owned and operated by Interprovincial Pipe Line Ltd. which was incorporated in Canada in 1949. The company’s name changed to Interhome Energy Inc. in 1988. The name changed to Interprovincial Pipe Line Inc. in 1991. Interprovincial Pipe Line Inc. was acquired by Interprovincial Pipe Line System Inc. in 1992. Interprovincial Pipe Line System Inc.’s name changed to IPL Energy Inc. in 1994. The name changed to Enbridge Inc. in 1998. (Click Here for Source)
The initial argument about an oil pipeline to Montreal raged from 1958 to 1960. At the end, the Diefenbaker government ultimately rejected the idea in favour of exerting moral suasion on the major companies.
The controversial issue was raised again in the mid-1970s when the Trudeau government expressed their belief that shipping Western Canadian crude to refineries in Montreal was in the public interest.
An article in the Ottawa Citizen on May 16th, 1974 explained that due to a tight timeline imposed by the federal government, Interprovincial Pipe Line Ltd. could be forced to cut some environmental corners in the construction of the Montreal extension. An Interprovincial employee admitted that more detailed studies were needed on such topics as water crossings, sensitive marine clays, water and water users, identification of unique and recreational areas and wildlife. (Click Here for Original 1975 Line 9 Application Decision)
The first shipment of Western Canadian crude arrived in Montreal June 15th, 1976. Initially, the daily flow averaged 125,000 bpd, with Interprovincial Pipe Line Ltd hoping to double the flow by the end of September 1976. At that time, it was noted that the line’s capacity was 350,000 bpd, but could be increased to 690,000 bpd with additions to pumping stations. (Click Here for Source)
On June 17th, 1992, IPL Inc. filed an application with the National Energy Board to re-establish tolls on Line 9 which had been sitting idle since July 6th, 1991. IPL received a proposal from a group of shippers to transport 20,000-30,000 bpd of Western Canadian crude oil to Montreal for approx. one year. IPL had to make the choice to either restart Line 9 by July 6th, 1992, or apply to the NEB for deactivation. (Source)
In 1996, IPL expressed their interest to reverse the flow of the 500 mile Sarnia to Montreal oil pipeline, which had been an economic failure since it was built with federal government encouragement 20 years previous. In June of that year, the Canadian federal government relinquished its option to acquire Line 9, giving IPL outright ownership. IPL bought the line from the Canadian government for an undisclosed price. The Calgary pipeline company planned to spend US$47 million reversing the flow on Line 9, which had required more than $200 million of taxpayer support since it was built as part of the National Energy Program to secure oil supply for Quebec refiners.
On May 1st, 1997, IPL filed to reverse the flow of Line 9. In December of that year, the NEB granted this request.
On October 6th, 1998, IPL Energy Inc. became Enbridge Inc. At this time, Enbridge began phasing out the IPL Energy name and the more than 20 other brands that the company operated under. (Source)
Enbridge has been operating Line 9 in an East to West direction at a reduced flow rate. Between 2009 and 2011, the company shipped an average of 64,000 bpd out of the approved 240,000 bpd capacity.
On November 29th, 2012, Enbridge applied to the National Energy Board to re-reverse the line back to a West to East direction, increase the capacity to 300,000 bpd, and receive permission to ship heavy crude oil from the Alberta Oil Sands.