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Enbridge Wins Approval for Line 5 Replacement Project

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Michigan regulators have approved an application by Enbridge (ENB) to replace a segment of the Line 5 pipeline running under the Great Lakes, removing one legal hurdle for the oil pipeline.

On December 1, the Michigan Public Service Commission (PSC) approved ENB’s application to replace a segment of twin pipelines now located on the bottom of the Straits of Mackinac between Lake Michigan and Lake Huron (see map). ENB proposes to replace them with a single pipeline buried in a concrete tunnel deep below the lakebed.

Line 5 transports up to 540 Mb/d of light crude oil and NGLs from Superior, WI to Sarnia, ON. The pipeline is a key source of propane used for heating homes in Michigan. East Daley Analytics tracks crude oil flows through the Midwest in our Crude Hub Model, as well as regional NGL flows in the NGL Network Model.

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In the ruling, the Michigan PSC found a public need for the Line 5 project. The agency determined “that without the pipeline’s operation, suppliers would need to use higher-risk and costlier alternative fuel supply sources and transportation for Michigan customers.” 

ENB needs additional approvals from the US Army Corps of Engineers to move ahead with the Line 5 replacement. The approval by the Michigan PSC also comes with conditions related to the tunnel’s safety and construction.

Enbridge is juggling multiple legal issues around Line 5. In June 2023, a US district judge ordered the company to move a 12-mile segment of the pipeline near Ashland, WI that crosses into lands of the Bad River Band of the Lake Superior Chippewa.

The Bad River Band alleges Line 5 is at risk of exposure and rupturing after erosion from heavy rains. The judge agreed and gave ENB three years to relocate the pipeline, a window that would end on July 16, 2026. ENB proposes to replace the segment with 41 miles of pipeline running around the tribe’s land. – Maria Paz Urdaneta Tickers: ENB.




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