ENB recently decided to replace its 65-year old crude pipes of Line 5 under the Straits of Mackinac. The decision has been backed by the Michigan government. The company will install a multi-use utility tunnel that is to be drilled through the bedrock of the channel and decommission the old pipes. The cost of the project is estimated in the range of $350-$500 million.
The project involves extensive engineering works and is expected to take 7-10 years for completion. Until then, around 23 million gallons of natural gas liquids and oil, which are used to make propane, will be transported through the lines daily. The cost of designing, building and maintaining the tunnel will be met by the company.
This decision is in line with the recent demands from environmental activists, who were wary of the oil line’s present state, fearing that it could lead to a potential spill. In April, the pipeline suffered damage from a ship’s anchor. Moreover, protective coating of the pipes is not intact at several places. Hence, the project further ensures safety of the pipeline as well as the water body. It will enable the company to deliver uninterrupted energy sources to the residents of the state.
The independent state agency of Michigan, Mackinac Bridge Authority (which controls operations of the Mackinac Bridge across the Straits of Mackinac) will help Enbridge to receive necessary government permits for the project. Once the project is completed, the agency will own the tunnel and lease it to Enbridge for pipeline operations. Going forward, the agency may strike similar deals with providers of electric and telecommunication cables.