After rejecting a call in September to shut off Enbridge Inc.’s cross-border Line 5, a federal court in Wisconsin has directed the pipeline company and the Lake Superior Chippewa’s Bad River Band to work together on a spill risk reduction plan for the 540,000 b/d oil conduit.

Enbridge Line 5

U.S. District Court Judge William Conley of the Western District of Wisconsin said the Chippewa tribe needed to adopt the cooperative approach with Enbridge as a positive alternative to closure orders that would be “draconian injunctive remedies.”

The decision calls for meetings by Dec. 17 to start work on spill risk mitigation. Action should preserve Line 5 “for those areas of the United States and Canada that currently depend on it,” Conley wrote.

[Shale Daily: Including impactful news and transparent pricing for shale and unconventional plays across the U.S. and Canada, Shale Daily offers a clear snapshot of natural gas supplies for analysts, investors and global LNG buyers. Learn more.]

“The court must consider what alternative steps, however imperfect – particularly in the longer run – would reduce the risk of an oil spill in the near term.”

The September decision, which rebuffed a call to shut off Line 5, indicated that Enbridge eventually must obey the tribal demand to remove the leg across tribal territory and pay compensation.

However, the court said a replacement detour would be acceptable to maintain oil service to the U.S. Midwest, Ontario and Quebec. Enbridge continues to work on construction permits for the 41-mile detour, which the judicial decision would allow five years to build.