Canadian pipeline operator Enbridge Inc can restart operations at the west leg of its Line 5 pipeline while the damaged east leg remains shut, a Michigan circuit court judge ruled on Wednesday.
The ruling comes after the judge granted the Michigan attorney general’s motion for a temporary restraining order last Thursday, requiring Enbridge to halt Line 5 operations.
The pipeline’s east leg will remain shut until the federal regulator, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, completes its investigations about the damage or until ordered by the court.
Michigan Attorney-General Dana Nessel has been attempting through the courts to permanently shut down the portion of the pipeline that passes through the Straits of Mackinac, fearing any leak would pollute the Great Lakes.
The 67-year-old Line 5, a part of the vast North American Mainline network, travels through the Straits, which connects Lake Michigan and Lake Huron.
Enbridge shut down the pipeline on June 18 following damage to the east leg, but resumed operations at the west leg after two days, until the court ordered its shutdown.
The company said it plans to restart and expects the west leg operations to soon return to normal, while it conducts an inspection.
The court decision will help in getting information surrounding the incident that is needed to complete an analysis of the damage, Nessel said.
While the east leg remains shut, Wednesday’s ruling is a positive development for integrated Canadian oil companies such as Imperial Oil Ltd and Suncor Energy Inc, according to a note by Credit Suisse.
Both the companies have refineries that are dependent on the pipeline.
Enbridge previously estimated that if Line 5 was shut, refineries served by it in Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Ontario and Quebec would get about 45 per cent less crude than their current demand.
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