Pipeline Fixed in SD; More Sections Need Repair

Wednesday, May 18, 2016 @ 02:05 PM gHale


Workers completed repairs to TransCanada’s Keystone pipeline in Hutchinson County, SD, but cleanup is continuing.

The crude oil pipeline sprang a leak early last month, and eventually spilled about 400 barrels of crude oil in and on farmland south of Freeman.

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Trans Canada spokesman Matthew John said the company was able to weld a new section of pipeline in place.

John added they don’t have a total yet of the soil that ended up removed from the leak site.

Meanwhile, in a related move, TransCanada plans to dig up and replace sections of its Keystone pipeline found to not meet federal strength standards so the company can begin pumping oil at higher pressure.

Work, slated to begin this month and extend through 2017, will happen in Nebraska, South Dakota, Kansas, Illinois and Missouri. The 30-inch pipeline first went into operation in June 2010.

Most oil pipelines in the United States, including Keystone, operate at 72 percent of the minimum pressure that could cause a deformation in the system, known as specified minimum yield strength.

TransCanada in 2007 got permission to run its Keystone pipeline at 80 percent, in mostly rural areas, but with a laundry list of safety specifications and conditions. TransCanada spokesman Terry Cunha said running at the higher pressure “allows us to be more efficient with our operations to meet customer expectations and demands.”

After building Keystone, TransCanada did an in-line inspection which found the pipeline to be safe but did identify some areas that would need replacement based on post-construction guidelines for low yield strength, Cunha said. The work has to occur before TransCanada could begin running Keystone at the higher operating pressure.

The sections of the pipeline they will replace range from nine to 40 feet long. Keystone will shut down for short periods, typically 24 hours and no more than twice in a four-week period, for work to occur.