Norman Wells Oil Pipeline

From Global Energy Monitor
This article is part of the Global Fossil Infrastructure Tracker, a project of Global Energy Monitor.

Norman Wells Oil Pipeline, also known as Enbridge Line 21 Oil Pipeline, is an oil pipeline in Canada.[1][2] It transports crude oil from the Norman Wells oil field in the Northwest Territories to Alberta, from where the crude oil is transported to Edmonton, Alberta through another pipeline.[3]

The pipeline has been shut down since November 2016 due to concerns over ground stability at a section of the pipeline that crosses the Mackenzie River.[3]


The pipeline originates in Norman Wells, Northwest Territories and terminates in Zama, Alberta, Canada.

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Project details

  • Operator:
  • Owner: Enbridge[4]
  • Parent company: Enbridge[4]
  • Current capacity: 45,000 barrels per day[4]
  • Length: 540 miles[3]
  • Diameter: 12 inches[4]
  • Status: Operating, but "temporarily deactivated, due to preventative maintenance work"[4]
  • Start year: 1985, 2018


The 12-inch-diameter pipeline traverses 870 km (540 mi) through the Northwest Territories.[4]

The pipeline was shut down by Enbridge in November 2016 due to concerns regarding ground instability in a section located near Fort Simpson.[5][6] A proposed $53-million project involving 2.5 km of horizontal drilling under the Mackenzie River would repair the pipeline.[6] However, as of September 2017, the Enbridge website stated "there is no date set for restart of the pipeline at this time."[3]

As of late 2018, the pipeline was back in service.[7]


In May 2011, Enbridge temporarily shut down the pipeline after approximately 4 barrels of oil leaked about 50 km (31 mi) south of Wrigley, Northwest Territories.[8] In response, the National Energy Board issued maximum pressure restrictions in 2011, and additional restrictions in March 2013, before lifting the restrictions in November 2015 after engineering assessments were conducted and corrective measures were implemented.[9]


The Dene Tha’ First Nation in northern Alberta opposed the original construction of the pipeline in the 1980s, submitting testimony to the National Energy Board regarding the pipeline's initial application.[10]

Since being shut down in November 2016, the Liidlii Kue First Nation has opposed the proposed Norman Wells repair project, saying a full environmental review of the proposal is necessary prior to construction.[6] According to Enbridge’s Energy Infrastructure Assets report, as of June 2020, the pipeline was still shut-down for maintenance.[4]

Articles and resources


  1. Norman Wells Oil Pipeline, A Barrel Full, accessed September 2017
  2. Enbridge Line 21 Oil Pipeline, A Barrel Full, accessed September 2017
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Line 21 (Norman Wells Pipeline) Segment Replacement Project, Enbridge, accessed September 2017
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 Enbridge’s Energy Infrastructure Assets Enbrdige, July 22, 2020
  5. Enbridge shuts down Norman Wells pipeline, citing 'stability concerns' along riverbank, CBC News, 25 Nov. 2016
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Norman Wells mayor hopes for quick approval of pipeline repair, CBC News, 19 May 2017
  7. Government of Canada, Canada Energy Regulator (2022-04-06). "NEB – Pipeline Profiles: Enbridge Norman Wells". Retrieved 2022-04-19.
  8. Enbridge reports leak on Norman Wells pipeline, Reuters, 11 May 2011
  9. Enbridge Pipelines (NW) Inc.’s Enbridge Norman Wells Pipeline, National Energy Board, accessed September 2017
  10. Indigenous Voices and Resistance in Oil Pipeline History: The Dene Tha’ and the Norman Wells Pipeline, Active History, 17 Nov. 2016

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