Enbridge beefing up its equipment just in case of American oil spill

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. – The Canadian company that owns twin underwater oil pipelines in the area where Lakes Huron and Michigan meet says it’s spending US$7 million over the next two years on equipment that could be deployed quickly in the event of a spill.

Calgary-based Enbridge Energy (TSX:ENB) says the nearly eight kilometres of pipelines that cross the Straits of Mackinac between Michigan’s two peninsulas have never leaked and are safe.

But senior emergency manager Stephen Lloyd says just in case, the company is ordering additional containment and skimming devices that could suck up oil in open water before it reaches sensitive shorelines.

Environmental groups say the 63-year-old pipes pose too great a risk and should be shut down.

They carry nearly 83 million litres daily to Canadian refineries.

Enbridge said in May that it expects US$62 million in fines and penalties related to an oil spill near Marshall, Mich., in 2010 when about 20,000 barrels of oil spilled from a ruptured line into the Kalamazoo River system.

In a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Enbridge said US$55 million represents penalties under federal water law in the United States. The Alberta-based company says no final fine or penalty has been ordered yet as negotiations continue with the U.S. government.

The company said total costs from the disaster are pegged at US$1.2 billion, with most of that covered by insurance.

— with files from The Associated Press