After Spill, Alberta Pipeline Restarts

Friday, June 22, 2012 @ 04:06 PM gHale


After shutting partially and then completely shutting it down, Enbridge Inc. restarted a major Alberta oil sands pipeline late on Tuesday, after an oil spill at a pumping station in Canada.

Enbridge, whose lines carry the bulk of Canadian oil exports to the United States, said the failure of a piece of equipment on the Athabasca Pipeline caused more than 1,400 barrels of oil sands-derived crude to leak in a rural area.

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The company said it was able to bypass the pumping station at Elk Point in northeastern Alberta. The pipeline was flowing at about 280,000 barrels per day on Wednesday, which is 65,000 bpd under capacity.

“Elk Point Station will remain on bypass until the site is cleaned, the terms of the return to work plan met, and the (Alberta Energy Resources Conservation Board) gives approval to restart the station,” said Enbridge spokesman Graham White.

The incident, the second leak from a pipeline system in Alberta in under two weeks, occurred as Enbridge seeks to build the $5.4 billion Northern Gateway pipeline to the Pacific Coast from Alberta amid opposition from environmentalists and some British Columbia native groups whose lands the line would cross.

The 540-km (335-mile) line carries oil to Hardisty, Alberta, from the tar sands center of Fort McMurray. Hardisty is a major pipeline hub from where crude feeds into networks of export lines to the United States, such as Enbridge’s mainline and TransCanada Corp’s Keystone Pipeline.

Its capacity equals about 22 percent of Canada’s 1.6 million barrels a day of oil sands production.



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