Canada is going to fight hard to keep Enbridge’s Line 5 operating, Canada’s Natural Resources Minister, Seamus O’Regan said on Thursday. He added that Canada will invoke any measures necessary to keep that asset in use.
Firstly, those comments regard the order from the State of Michigan to shut down the Line 5; which delivers up to 540,000 barrels per day of light crude and propane. Michigan’s order was due to concerns about the aging pipeline leaking to the great lakes.
Secondly, the pipeline send petroleum products from Superior, Wisconsin, to refineries in Sarnia, Ontario. Canadian officials warn that shutting down the pipeline would end thousands of jobs; and would also cut essential supply of gasoline and jet fuel to Ontario and Quebec.
Thirdly, experts consider that the move has the potential to actually harm the relationship between the two countries. At least that’s the opinion of Joe Comartin, Canadian government’s consul in Detroit. “It is a big threat. Certainly, has the potential for damaging our relationship with the United States.” He said in an interview.
As we reported previously, this is not the first asset between Canada and the U.S. to be terminated. On his first day in office, president Joe Biden axed the Keystone XL pipeline. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed disappointment, but acknowledged Biden’s decision in the end.
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Line 5, a matter of Canada’s energy security
However, Line 5 is a very different asset than Keystone XL. Line 5 is part of Enbridge’s mainline system. It delivers to northern Alberta more than 2,8 million barrels of oil, more than half of Canada’s total production.
Therefore, Canadian officials say this asset is part of their energy security. “In some ways, this is much bigger than Line 3; this is much bigger than KXL, because those pipelines were moving product for sales; not for our own domestic use,” said Sarah Goldfeder, principal at Earnscliffe Strategy Group.
As of now, Enbridge is under dispute with the Michigan’s government authority for imposing a shutdown on a federally approved pipeline. The company said it will not comply with the order. The issue in fact is already escalated to a U.S. federal court.
Finally, Canadian officials say that shutting down Line 5 would increase dependency from other forms of transportation, all of which are dirtier in environmental terms. Line 5 is equal to 2000 trucks.