A recently released report by energy advocacy group Consumer Energy Alliance shows that the expected increase in fuel prices in the eventuality of a shutdown of Line 5, installed under Lake Michigan in the United States, would be in the range of 9.47% to 11.66%. This represents an increase of about 52 cents per gallon. Even so, the pressure from environmentalists in Canada and the United States continues. The government of Michigan, in the United States, is still discussing with the Canadian operator Enbridge the controversial project of the new Line 5 pipeline, which is currently still submerged in the bed of Lake Michigan. This is still a concern until the project is defined by the Canadian company, which owns the line. This week, a new round of discussions was held involving the local community, the Michigan government, and the Canadian company that owns the pipeline. The big surprise of the meeting was the presence of the president of Brazilian company Liderroll, Paulo Fernandes, who traveled to Michigan where, besides participating in the public hearing, had meetings with the Innovative Contracting Unit Manager for the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT), as well as the Government Affairs Director for Enbridge in the U.S., Peter Holran. All attended the public hearing.

ponte michiganIt is worth remembering that just over two years ago, the anchor a ship´s anchor hit the existing pipeline, built about 70 years ago, nearly causing an unprecedented environmental disaster in the region. Enbridge has decided to build a tunnel beneath the lake and, in it, install a new replacement pipeline, avoiding a future accident. However, Enbridge hasn´t yet decided which company will build the new tunnel. The tunnel will be almost seven kilometers long and will house the new 30-inch pipeline, which will replace the current pipelines. There is also the desire to implement two other lines in the same tunnel.

Liderroll, which has great experience in this subject matter, has already designed, manufactured, built, and launched four different lines in two tunnels in Brazil. One of 38 inches, in the GASDUC III Tunnel, in Rio de Janeiro, and three pipelines of different diameters maacinside the GASTAU Tunnel, under the sea mountains, in São Paulo. By the end of this year or early next year, the choice of technology to be used to launch the pipeline inside the tunnel under the Straits of Mackinac will be known. At this moment, Enbridge is studying the proposals. But from what we know about the difficulties of building the tunnel – which will be 170 meters below the Lake’s surface, besides having a steep slope and an even steeper incline, the option for the Brazilian technology seems to be well established. It has already been tested, approved, and awarded prizes internationally.

Sala da Audiencia Publica

Audience Room

Liderroll owns the patents both in the United States and Canada, but the presence of the company’s CEO in the public hearing showed the involvement of the Brazilian company in the project, beyond the commercial interest. Paulo Fernandes said he was pleasantly surprised with the reception of the American authorities and the Enbridge representative: “For me, it was really a very pleasant surprise the way we were received. This is because the reception and knowledge of our capacity were widely recognized. This will certainly reverberate in other ways. We came to participate and show our experience.”

– How was the interaction with the State of Michigan representative?

paulinho Interesting. We talked about many things about the project and our experience. Very friendly, Mr. Ryan Mitchell even managed to risk a few words in Portuguese. He was surprised to be there, present, interested in their problem, and made himself available to help us in the future.

– Enbridge was also present at the hearing. What is your evaluation of the conversations with the company’s representative?

This contact was also really important because he showed himself to be professional. He was also very impressed by our dedication and importance given to the project. He said he liked to see us so interested. We left a folder with the basic project that Liderroll has already done for this tunnel and also a very detailed consulting with all our evaluations of the very unfavorable points of the original project, which should be discarded.

This consultancy proves that Liderroll technology is the only applicable, especially for a very uneven profile, as is the case of this tunnel, with very steep slopes, besides being almost 7 km long. He understood and even commented that two of our technical observations have already been corrected and adopted, including what we had suggested. This made us happy to know that they are listening to us and agreeing with us.

– Do you believe in faster evolution from now on?

Certainly, I do. We even came here to see the place up close and to see in loco the size of the problem, which is not easy, but we are fully able toponmte cpa help and solve it.

– Would you be willing to go to Canada, where the project is underway?

We are here bringing this message. Count on us, on our experience, because it will be very useful. We all know that there are learning curves. We have been there. We have already done it. What is new is that Enbridge has now also realized the importance of executing the tunnel civil works project together with the construction, installation, and dynamic stability project of the pipeline, considering the scope of all group efforts and not only the efforts of the structural part of the tunnel.

– Had Liderroll already warned about this aspect?

linha 5Absolutely. We sent them our project and a letter of almost 100 pages, technically presenting these aspects and addressing the solutions that could be taken. This was the point that our consulting firm most called their attention to. What was observed at this hearing is that Enbridge and the designers started to see what we talked about back there. This is very good.

– Did you have contact with other people from Michigan?

Yes. After the hearing, I also personally talked with Mr. Michael Nystrom, Chairman of the Board of the Mackinac Straits Corridor Authority (MSCA). Like all people, he was very friendly and responsive.  He was also surprised that we came from Brazil for the meeting and revealed that he already knew of our experience in this area.

In his participation, the President of Liderroll reaffirmed that for him, Enbridge and the Michigan government were right in their decision to build a tunnel under the laketunel to contain and conduct an oil pipeline in this region, environmentally sensitive to the American population and the surrounding area. Paulo Fernandes showed the experience of Liderroll, which had already built four pipelines that are operating in Brazil in two tunnels of similar length. One with 3.9 kilometers and a diameter of nine meters, and another with 5.1 kilometers and a diameter of five meters, similar to the one that will be built under the lake. They transport gas at very high pressures and have been in operation for more than 13 years without any maintenance, any inspection, and without giving any indication of problems.

– What was your final feeling after the public hearing?

I could see that Enbridge is very well-intentioned and wants to do the right thing. Enbridge can and will succeed because she is taking well-thought-out and safe steps. Of course, because of the sensitivity and the dimension of the project, the government of Michigan is also committed and wants everything to flow most safely, both in the execution and throughout the operation period, which will be licensed for 99 years. Now, we have to wait for the definition of the contractor that will be responsible for all the pipeline work, including this stretch of “special crossing” with the tunnel, and then we can proceed with what we have proposed. We are more confident because it seems that we can have the support of the two most interested parties, that is, Enbridge itself and the Government of Michigan.

TUNEL-MAPA-300x123Paulo Fernandes also fulfilled an agenda of visits in Mackinaw City and St. Ignace, Michigan, where he visited the two sites where the tunnel pipeline will enter and exit. The objective was to learn about the future logistics of the installation:

We really liked what we saw. It will be a challenge of the kind we like and have already overcome to help our beloved Petrobras in Brazil. In this same action of recognition and establishment of a future logistical plan, we participated in a dinner with Mr. Dean Reid, President of the Mackinac Economic Alliance, and Mr. Chris Byrnes, Vice President, Mackinac Economic Alliance, the heads of the Mackinac County Authority, the local entity that acts as our municipalities in Brazil. Some basic guidelines have already been drawn up to support Liderroll in all phases of subcontracting, rentals, legal bureaucracy, local support etc.

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