Plains shuts Alberta oil pipeline after leak

Fri Jun 8, 2012 6:06pm EDT
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By Jeffrey Jones

CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) - Plains Midstream Canada said on Friday it shut part of a pipeline in west-central Alberta after crude leaked into a large river system just as the company was close to finishing its cleanup of a big year-old spill in the province.

Plains Midstream, a unit of Houston-based Plains All American (PAA.N: Quote), estimated that 1,000-3,000 barrels of light, sour crude - oil that has a high sulfur content - leaked from a 12-inch line on its Rangeland south system into a tributary of the Red Deer River, a large waterway that runs cross south-central Alberta.

Streamflows are high due to recent heavy rainfall and snow melt from the Rocky Mountains to the West, which will make cleanup tricky.

The company said it has deployed booms at a reservoir that doubles as a resort area and has brought in drinking water for local residents as a precaution.

Plains shut down about 10 km (6 miles) of pipeline from the Rangeland system, an 83,000-barrel-a-day network that consists of 1,225 km (761 miles) of gathering lines that move oil from production facilities and trunk lines that carry it to market.

According to Crude Quality Inc, which tracks refining characteristics of oil, the system moves mostly conventional light crude from fields in west-central Alberta to Edmonton-area refineries or to the U.S. border, where it connects with the Glacier pipeline system.

The company said the pipeline segment was not flowing oil when the release occurred. Crude market sources said they had not seen prices react to the incident.

"Immediately upon receiving notification of the release, Plains' pipeline operations in the area were shut down and valves were closed to isolate area pipelines," Plains said in a statement.   Continued...