What a well-built, well-maintained, 63-year-old pipeline looks like

Original segment of Line 5 a testament to extraordinary engineering, decades of vigilant maintenance

This is what a well-maintained, 63-year-old oil pipeline looks like.

Inspection results along Enbridge’s Line 5 have regularly indicated that from an engineering and maintenance perspective, the pipe, while not perfect, is like new and in excellent condition.

An original segment of Line 5, recently unearthed during a pump station upgrade near the Straits of Mackinac, confirms these results.

“It’s a common misperception that Line 5 was laid in the ground and forgotten. In reality, a lot of care and attention is devoted to protecting the pipe before it goes underground or underwater—and a lot more in the course of its operation,” says Blake Olson, operations manager for Line 5 in northern Michigan and the Straits of Mackinac.

The photo above shows a piece of Line 5 that was removed during our Mackinaw City pump station upgrade in July. The left portion of the pipe is covered by a fiber-reinforced enamel coating that provides an impermeable barrier against the elements. The center portion shows a formidable weld seam, and the right side shows the condition of the pipe under the enamel coating.

This segment of Line 5 operated underground, not underwater, and was buried at a depth of about five feet.