Canada has options if Line 5 is shut down: environmental group
A report by a Canadian environmental group, Environmental Defence, says alternatives to Line 5 already exist if the controversial cross-border pipeline gets shut down.
The report – commissioned by the group – recommends upgrading Enbridge Inc.’s new Line 78 pipeline to handle most of what Line 5 now delivers to Ontario and Quebec, as well as several Midwestern states.
The state of Michigan is in court with Enbridge in a bid to shutter Line 5, fearing an ecological disaster in the Straits of Mackinac, where the pipeline crosses the Great Lakes.
Line 78 extends across the southern part of the state to link Sarnia, Ont., with junctions in northwestern Indiana at the southernmost tip of Lake Michigan, where it connects with existing lines from Superior, Wisc., where Line 5 originates.
It was completed in 2015 as a replacement upgrade for Line 6B, best known as the pipeline that spilled 3.1 million litres of oil into Michigan’s Kalamazoo River in 2010.
The report, which acknowledges an ongoing need to supply fossil fuels even amid a transition to renewables, says Line 5’s remaining lost capacity could be handled by a combination of rail and marine tanker.
“The closure of Line 5 is inevitable — either through court order or due to a rupture,” the report says, noting that either outcome would lead to energy shortages throughout the myriad regions and facilities that depend on it for energy. “A better solution is a planned shutdown where Enbridge, the refineries and governments sort out how best to meet demand without Line 5. What this report clearly demonstrates is that options exist.”
The two sections of Line 78 are currently able to carry 570,000 and 500,000 barrels of oil per day, but could be upgraded to capacities of 800,000 and 525,000 respectively — what the report describes as the “ultimate design” scenario.
Line 5, by comparison, has a maximum daily capacity of 540,000 barrels, although neither pipeline is currently operating at full strength, the report notes. “This means spare capacity already exists within Line 78 to largely make up for the closure of Line 5.”
The report says in the “constrained” Line 78 scenario, a Line 5 closure would leave a shortfall of 255,000 barrels per day to be made up elsewhere, while the shortfall shrinks to 119,000 barrels under the expanded-capacity model.
It estimates that two to three additional trains on routes already transporting oil could handle that additional 119,000 barrels, as could a single additional marine tanker. And it projects a nominal increase in the price of gasoline: 1.8 cents per litre.