Saskatchewan advocates for importance of North American energy infrastructure

Saskatchewan Energy and Resources Minister Bronwyn Eyre appeared before the House of Commons Special Committee on the Economic Relationship between Canada and the United States on the importance of the Enbridge Line 5 pipeline for Saskatchewan.

"Line 5 is a crucial energy lifeline for Saskatchewan and Western Canadian oil and natural gas producers," Eyre said. "Michigan's move to shut it down would have a serious impact on North American energy security and Canada's economic relationship with the United States."

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Last November, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer revoked the pipeline's 1953 easement through the Straits of Mackinac and ordered it closed by May 12, 2021. A legal challenge by Enbridge and mediation process are currently underway.

Approximately 70 per cent of Saskatchewan’s total oil production is exported through the Enbridge Mainline pipeline system, which runs from Edmonton, through Saskatchewan, to Superior, Wisc. There, it connects to Line 5, which goes through Michigan and crosses the U.S.-Canada border to Sarnia, Ont.

Line 5, which moves up to 540,000 barrels per day of light crude oil and natural gas liquids, is a critical piece of energy infrastructure for American states in the Great Lakes region, as well as for Ontario and Quebec. Without it, refineries in those provinces would have to increase reliance on trucking, crude-by-rail and oil imports, which would lead to heavier international tanker traffic, including along the St. Lawrence Seaway.

"A decision to shut down Line 5 would raise energy costs for Canadians and affect everything from home heating rates and propane for barbecues to grain-drying costs and Pearson International Airport's fuel supply," Eyre said. "There would also be a significant impact on heating and transportation costs in Michigan and surrounding states, some of which are against this proposed shut-down."

In 2020, Saskatchewan exported $109 million in goods to Michigan and imported $137 million.

The cross-partisan House of Commons Special Committee was struck on Feb. 16, 2021, and is expected to deliver an interim report on the importance of the Enbridge Line 5 pipeline no later than April 15.

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