Enbridge Inc. has asked the Canadian government for legal and diplomatic help to defend its 540,000 b/d Line 5 pipeline against Michigan attempts to shut it down.

line 5

Enbridge Vice President Vern Yu disclosed the requests in testimony about the 68-year-old pipeline’s troubles before a House of Commons committee. Line 5 delivers oil and natural gas liquids (NGL) supplies.

“Use every pathway,” Yu said, including intervention, to prevent Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer from revoking a 1953 state easement for the Straits of Mackinac. The state is set to revoke the easement by May 13.

Michigan officials said they would have propane supply security with trains and storage available if deliveries are shuttered on Line 5. The system delivers 75,000 b/d of propane for about 55% of Michigan needs, led by two-thirds of requirements in northern parts of the state. The line also delivers NGLs to Ontario and Quebec. 

An initial legal hearing on the easement notice, and an associated demand by Whitmer for an order to shut down the pipeline, has been scheduled for May 12 in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan.

The path to settling the dispute, underway since 2018, would be “a mediated and negotiated diplomatic solution,” according to Enbridge. Conducting the battle to a finish in the courts would take “many, many years,” it predicted.

Calgary-based Enbridge reminded the Canadian government that Line 5 deliveries of oil and propane for Ontario and Quebec, as well as Michigan, are supposed to be protected by a 1977 Transit Pipelines Treaty with the United States.

Canada’s national Liberal government gave no instant response to Enbridge’s request for courtroom assistance but it has promised help. The government has begun a campaign to save Line 5 with political lobbying and diplomatic initiatives.