WHAT IS LINE 5 AND WHY WAS IT BUILT?
In 1953, leaders from the Great Lakes region determined that freighters using the Great Lakes to carry oil and other key fuels to locations throughout the region posed a high risk for incident to the sensitive resources within the Great Lakes region that help support the region’s economy. The severe weather events in the Great Lakes region also made the transport of petroleum products by freighters less reliable, particularly in winter months when the timely delivery of energy products was most crucial.
Line 5 was built in conjunction with Michigan and regional governments to address the need to safely, reliably, and efficiently move growing volumes of fuels to refineries in the Great Lakes region. Subsequently, it removed oil-carrying barges from the waters of the Great Lakes.
Even in 1953, the engineers of Line 5 knew that crossing the Straits of Mackinac required the smartest design, the best pipe materials and some unique considerations to ensure that fuels got to where they were needed and waterways remained protected. Accordingly, Line 5 was designed to minimize risks: twin spans of one-inch, seamless carbon steel; a durable protective coating; product moving at very low pressure; continuous monitoring and maintenance, and technology upgrades
that exceed federal requirements. After six decades, Line 5 today remains what its designers envisioned: a steady, reliable, and efficient energy asset that keeps Michigan’s communities powered and the Great Lakes protected.
HOW DOES MICHIGAN BENEFIT FROM LINE 5?
Why is Line 5 So Important?
Check out the answers to some of the most interesting facts about what makes Line 5 help our state and our economy. Click on the links to the right to find out the answers.
HOW MANY TRUCKS OR RAIL CARS WOULD BE NEEDED TO MOVE THE AMOUNT OF PRODUCT LINE 5 DELIVERS?
At a minimum, more than 2,700 tanker trucks or more than 840 rail cars per day, every day would be needed to transport the 540,000 barrels of energy products that Line 5 reliably delivers on a daily basis. A truck or rail option would place the transportation of these significant volumes squarely within the framework of already-congested roads and rail lines located throughout Michigan’s local communities.
These alternatives are less likely to guarantee the reliable transportation of products in Michigan’s unpredictable weather conditions, particularly in winter months when propane is needed most to heat homes and schools. Increased truck and rail
transportation also would have the adverse result of directly increasing air emissions in and around the Great Lakes.
CAN EXISTING PIPELINE CAPACITY REPLACE LINE 5?
Many tend to look at pipelines like roads: you can move any vehicle on any road, therefore, you should be able to move any product on any pipeline; however, it’s not that simple.
Pipelines such as Line 5 are designed for specific purposes, and the design is reviewed carefully and vetted by governing and regulatory bodies before each pipeline is constructed and operated. Consistent with their intended design, pipelines carry specific fuels and products from areas of production to refineries and industrial users, which in the case of Line 5, rely on the fuel delivered to make products used every day – gasoline, medications, mobile phones, and many others.
Existing pipelines in the Great Lakes are running at near capacity. Due to either design or space constraints, they simply cannot transport the specific fuels and products that Line 5 is designed to carry; nor is a single pipeline in place that provides the injection and delivery points that are served by Line 5 for natural gas liquids and light crude oil.
HOW IS LINE 5 SAFELY AND PROPERLY MAINTAINED?
Line 5 was designed with a single goal in mind: to safely and reliably transport the energy families and businesses require each day in a manner that also preserves Michigan’s natural resources and supports the region’s economy.
With a strong understanding of the Straits and its weather conditions, the same team that designed and constructed the
iconic Mackinac Bridge also designed and constructed Line 5 to stand the test of time to serve Michigan’s energy needs.
Line 5 in the Straits is constructed of heavy American-made steel, which at nearly an inch thick, makes it the thickest pipeline in the North American on-shore system. The dual pipelines that comprise the Line 5 Straits crossing are seamless, making them much less susceptible to integrity issues. Additionally, the special waterproof enamel coating that surrounds the dual pipelines helps prevent corrosion of the pipes, while the low pressure at which they operate helps ensure their safe function.
Line 5 has one of the most rigorous inspection and maintenance programs in the country, far exceeding federal pipeline safety requirements. Inspections are conducted frequently to assess the internal and external condition of the pipes. Such inspections use the latest in-line technologies to ensure that potential integrity risks can be identified and addressed effectively, ensuring that Line 5 can continue to safely transport the energy products that Michigan needs.