07/08/2015 04:35 EDT | Updated 07/08/2016 05:59 EDT

Enbridge executive says he hopes Line 9 pipeline begins shipping oil this year

CALGARY - An Enbridge executive says he hopes the company will be allowed to start shipping crude to Montreal through its Line 9 pipeline later this year.

But senior vice-president Vern Yu says there should be more clarity on the timeline when Enbridge reports its second quarter-earnings within the coming weeks.

Work to reverse the flow of Line 9 between southern Ontario and Montreal was completed last fall, but Enbridge was been waiting for the National Energy Board to allow it to start up.

The latest delay came last month when the board ordered hydrostatic testing on three segments of pipe in densely populated areas to ensure it won't leak.

Yu says it's an involved process that's likely to take a few months rather than weeks as the technical details need to be worked out with the board and various permits need to be obtained.

Yu was speaking Wednesday to reporters at the TD Securities Energy Conference in Calgary.

Hydrostatic testing involves filling the pipe with water at much higher than its usual operating pressure to ensure the pipe is strong enough and won't burst. The results must be provided to and approved by the National Energy Board.

"You have to work out the technical details with the NEB, what exactly are you going to do," said Yu.

"Then you need to get all the permits to acquire the water, to move the water, to discharge the water. That takes time. Then you actually have to do the test. Then you have to review the results of the test. So it is a lengthy process."

The original Line 9 has been in the ground for around four decades, but Enbridge has reconfigured it to ship greater volumes and flow crude eastward rather than westward. That way, Quebec refineries can have access to domestic crude, rather than having to rely on imports.

In addition to the hydrostatic testing, the National Energy Board has also imposed more conditions on the project once it starts up, such as biweekly ground patrols and quarterly integrity testing during the first two years of operation.

Last October, as work on the pipeline was wrapping up, the regulator raised concerns about the placement of shut-off valves in relation to water crossings. In February, the board said it was satisfied with Enbridge's approach.

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