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Enbridge vows to keep pipeline open, girds for legal fight with Michigan

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Canadian pipeline company Enbridge Inc is squaring off for a legal battle with Michigan and courting protests from environmental groups, betting it can ignore the U.S. state‘s Wednesday deadline to shut its oil pipeline that runs under the Straits of Mackinac.

“We will not stop operating the pipeline unless we are ordered by a court or our regulator, which we view as highly unlikely,” Enbridge spokeswoman Tracie Kenyon said in a statement this week, ahead of Michigan’s deadline for shutting the line.

Line 5 is a link in Enbridge’s network to bring oil exports from western Canada to refineries and airports in Ontario, Quebec, Michigan, Ohio and Indiana. In November, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer gave Enbridge six months to shut down the 540,000 barrel-per-day pipeline that runs four miles along the bottom of Lake Michigan-Huron, citing fears it could rupture and spill.

The state’s order still needs a confirmatory order from a judge to enforce it, and Enbridge and Michigan are disputing whether the issue should be heard in state or U.S. federal court.

The sides are in court-ordered mediation, with the next session scheduled for May 18.

Joe Comartin, Canada‘s consul general in Detroit who is arguing on behalf of the country’s federal government, said litigation could drag on until at least 2024.

“I don’t see a court jumping the gun and ordering it closed … until the litigation and constitutional issues are resolved,” he said in an interview.

The Canadian government has been lobbying officials in Washington to keep the pipeline open in what is likely to be an election year in Canada, but the White House has so far not weighed in on the matter.

The Ontario government estimates that the city of Sarnia, just across the border from Michigan, could lose 5,000 refinery and chemical plant jobs. Industry lobbyists say thousands of jobs are also at risk in the United States.

Environmentalists and indigenous groups opposed to Line 5 say the potential job losses are exaggerated, and are planning “Evict Enbridge” rallies in Mackinaw City, Michigan, on Wednesday and Thursday.

“Past May 12, Enbridge will be operating illegally as per state laws. We are very hopeful to hear from the governor that there will be accountability measures for operating that pipeline,” said Beth Wallace of the National Wildlife Federation.

Michigan is reviewing what remedies would be available to the state if Enbridge keeps operating past the deadline, said Lynsey Mukomel, a spokeswoman for the Michigan Attorney General.

Canadian crude market forward prices suggest most traders do not expect Line 5 to shut in coming months, but the lack of certainty is concerning, said one Calgary-based market source.

“We are looking at all our options and we will leave no stone unturned in defending Canada‘s energy security,” Natural Resources Minister Seamus O’Regan told an emergency parliamentary debate on the pipeline last Thursday.

“We will be ready to intervene strategically at precisely the right moment,” he continued, without giving details.

 

(Reporting by David Ljunggren and Nia Williams; Editing by David Gregorio)

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Lufthansa sets 2024 goal, eyes capital increase

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Germany’s flagship carrier Deutsche Lufthansa said it aims to boost its return on capital employed (ROCE) and laid out plans for a capital increase as it prepares for a business recovery amid an easing coronavirus pandemic.

The largest German airline aims to have an adjusted EBIT margin of at least 8% and an adjusted ROCE of at least 10% in 2024, it said late on Monday.

Adjusted ROCE was –16.7% in 2020 and 6.6% in 2019.

The group added it had mandated banks to prepare a possible capital increase, though size and timing have not yet been determined and the German state, which has bailed out the airline during the pandemic, has not yet given its approval.

 

(Reporting by Ludwig Burger; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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Virtual Law Firms Are on the Rise in Canada

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Virtual law firms have been on the rise for a while. In a 2019 roundtable discussion conducted by the American Bar Association, several firm leaders met to discuss the growing presence of online legal services. The consensus was clear: virtual is the new reality.

That was 2019. In the intervening two years, the world was gripped by a global pandemic that forced most people to conduct their business indoors. As you might have guessed, demand for contactless, remote legal services has only ballooned since that roundtable discussion.

While the roundtable primarily focused on the legal industry in the US, you can witness similar trends here in Canada. Like the taxi industry and entertainment distribution industry before it, law is increasingly moving toward digital spaces.

This article explores what virtual law firms are, what benefits they present for Canadian clients, and what kind of clients are driving the virtual law boom.

Not a Change but an Addition

At its best, the shift from brick-and-mortar law firms to virtual isn’t an alteration of legal services as much as it is an addition.

The best virtual law firms do not compromise on service – they still offer traditional legal services with the expertise of real lawyers. The only difference is that they have added a new medium: a more accessible, transparent means of communication and billing.

Why Canadians Choose Online Law Firms

For some clients, the traditional brick-and-mortar firm was hard to give up. They viewed their lawyer like they viewed their doctor: a professional whose in-person expertise couldn’t be replicated in a digital space. Then, the pandemic hit. As millions more Canadians acclimatized to working online, they also habituated to the idea of doing business online.

 

Credit: Ketut Subiyanto Via Pexels

The benefits were immediately apparent. Virtual law firms feature streamlined communication, available seven days a week. They eliminate the need to go to a physical office. They offer all the same legal expertise and services as a brick-and-mortar lawyer. And, crucially, they often leverage transparent pricing: flat, predetermined legal fees with no hidden costs. A client looking for affordable legal services in Mississauga or Toronto, for instance, can simply click a few buttons and hire a lawyer on the spot.

Who Is Using These New Services?

You might be wondering: do they wheel a computer into the courtroom when someone avails themselves of a virtual lawyer? No, that isn’t quite the case.

Clients tend to use virtual law firms for everyday legal services – not necessarily courtroom representation. A client looking to create a will or name a power of attorney might choose a virtual lawyer for the sake of simplicity. A homebuyer, looking to keep costs manageable might hire a virtual lawyer for closing since their prices are both more transparent and affordable. A couple seeking to draft a cohabitation agreement may find similar benefits in an online lawyer.

The fact is that virtual legal services are not only here to stay – they are on the rise. Fortunately, the future is friendly; online law firms offer the same legal expertise as their physically housed counterparts, with the added benefits of being accessible and affordable.

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Tourmaline to expand in Montney with C$1.1 billion deal for Black Swan

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Canada‘s Tourmaline Oil Corp said on Friday it would buy privately owned Black Swan Energy Ltd in a C$1.1 billion ($908.79 million) deal, as the oil and gas producer looks to expand in the Montney region, one of North America’s top shale plays.

Canada‘s Montney, which straddles Alberta and British Columbia, has seen a wave of consolidation as companies buckled under collapsing oil prices amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tourmaline said the deal represents a key part of its ongoing North Montney consolidation strategy and the company sees the area as a key sub-basin for supplying Canadian liquefied natural gas.

The company in April acquired 50% of Saguaro Resources Ltd’s assets in the Laprise-Conroy North Montney play for $205 million and entered into a joint-venture agreement to develop these assets.

Analysts at brokerage ATB Capital Markets called the Black Swan assets a “hand in glove” fit with its recent acquisitions.

Tourmaline stock rose 4.5% to C$32.1.

The deal value consists of 26 million Tourmaline shares and a net debt of up to $350 million, including deal costs.

Tourmaline will acquire an expected average production capacity of over 50,000 boepd when the deal closes, likely in the second half of July.

The company, which also raised its dividend by 1 Canadian cent per share, expects the Black Swan assets to generate free cash flow of $150 million to $200 million in 2022 and beyond.

The Canadian energy sector has seen a flurry of deals with companies expecting to benefit from the rebound in oil prices as global fuel demand picks up.

ARC Resources Ltd in April bought Seven Generations Energy Ltd for C$2.7 billion to create Montney’s largest oil and gas producer.

($1 = 1.2104 Canadian dollars)

 

(Reporting by Rithika Krishna in Bengaluru; Editing by Vinay Dwivedi)

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