Alberta Suffers Second Pipeline Spill

Wednesday, June 20, 2012 @ 04:06 PM gHale


Enbridge Inc. closed a major Alberta pipeline Tuesday that transports oil sands-derived crude after a spill at a pump station, the second oil leak to foul regions of the Canadian province in under two weeks.

Canada’s second-largest pipeline company turned off its 345,000 barrel-a-day Athabasca pipeline after an estimated 1,400 barrels of oil leaked from a piece of equipment at a station near the northeast Alberta town of Elk Point on Monday.

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It restarted the pipeline after shutting off the station, bypassing it and beginning cleanup, but closed it down again Tuesday after the Alberta Energy Resources Conservation Board ordered it to do so, the firm said.

As a result, Enbridge expects to restart the line in days rather than weeks, company spokesman Graham White said. Enbridge is in discussions with the conservation board to determine when.

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 which 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.

“No waterways are impacted and cleanup is under way. There were no injuries or no evacuations as a result of the release,” the regulatory board said.

The incident follows an oil spill from a ruptured pipeline owned by Plains All American in western Alberta June 7 in which cleanup with booms and skimmers continues. Up to 3,000 barrels of oil leaked into the Red Deer River system, fouling up a vacation resort area.



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