August 2, 2012 / 12:57 AM / 5 years ago

Canada's Enbridge says has repaired oil line after leak

(Reuters) - Enbridge Inc said on Wednesday that it had completed repairs on a ruptured pipeline from Canada that has been shut for five days following an oil leak in rural Wisconsin.

The leak was not particularly large, but it comes at a sensitive time for the Canadian firm, which has suffered a series of leaks in recent years and is embarking on a massive expansion program.

Enbridge said earlier in the day that it submitted a plan to U.S. regulators seeking permission to restart the pipeline, though it was unclear how long it would take to get approval.

“Enbridge will continue to coordinate its efforts with the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA),” the company said in a statement.

The PHMSA on Tuesday issued a so-called corrective action order that blocked Enbridge from resuming operations on the pipeline, which carries light crude to Chicago-area refineries, until certain conditions were met.

Corrective orders can delay resumption of pipeline operations, sometimes for weeks or months. When an Enbridge pipeline spilled crude into Michigan’s Kalamazoo River in 2010, the line was not approved for restart until six weeks later.

BLASTED

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood on Tuesday blasted Enbridge over the estimated 1,200-barrel leak in Wisconsin, saying it was “absolutely unacceptable” and that he would meet with the company’s leadership to seek an explanation of why it should be allowed to continue operating the line.

Apart from providing a restart plan for the entire 467-mile (752-km) pipeline, Enbridge will also need to test the line, evaluate previous inspections and commission an independent probe of its integrity management.

Line 14 is a 24-inch diameter pipe that was installed in 1998, making it a relatively new line. Enbridge said the line had been inspected twice in the past five years.

Meanwhile, Canadian regulators said they plan to carry out a series of safety audits at Enbridge in coming months to make sure its pipeline control-room procedures, heavily criticized last month by a U.S. watchdog, meet acceptable standards.

Reporting by Koustav Samanta, Soma Das and NR Sethuraman in Bangalore; Jeffrey Jones in Calgary; Editing by Joseph Radford

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