CALGARY, Alta. (Reuters) – Enbridge Inc. has asked the government on to help protect the oil pipeline in dispute with the state of Michigan, which is trying to shut the pipeline down, fearing a leakage into the Great Lakes.
The conflict between Enbridge Inc. and Michigan has aggravated due to the May deadline’s approaching for the closure of the pipeline with 540,000-barrels of the daily capacity.
Line 5 is a key part of the Enbridge pipeline network that supplies refineries with western Canadian-crude in eastern Canada and the U.S. Midwest.
After U.S. President Joe Biden cancelled permits for the cross-border Keystone XL pipeline project, Canada increased its support of the ongoing operation of Line 5. Nonetheless, both countries are willing to reduce their economies’ dependence on fossil fuels.
At the end of 2020, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer commanded to close Line 5 by May due to fo the concerns that a large section of it (over 6km) might leak into the Straits of Mackinac.
Fighting this order in the federal court of the U.S., Enbridge offered to build a $500 million-worth underwater tunnel to protect the pipeline running along the lakebed.
Enbridge’s executive vice president, Vern Yu, said the company is encouraging the Canadian government to use every pathway possible to warrant that Line 5 is an important binational pipeline protected by the treaty, which shutdown would have serious impacts for both Canada and the US.
“I think it’s essential that we try to come up with a mediated, negotiated diplomatic solution that takes us out of the hands of the court and provides a reasonable outcome for everyone involved,” Yu said.
Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government has already said it will look at all opportunities to keep Line 5 operating, including invoking the 1977 Transit Pipelines Treaty.
Yu said that it’s not expected that the pipeline would be closed in May since Michigan needs a court directive to implement its order, adding that court battles, however, could last for many, many years.
Last weekend, Enbridge and Michigan had their first court meeting, Yu said. However, he refused to provide any more details.