Enbridge shuts part of key U.S. oil pipeline after fire

Sat Mar 3, 2012 9:31pm EST
 
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By Jeffrey Jones

CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) - Enbridge Inc shut down a key segment of the main Canada-to-United States oil pipeline for an undetermined period on Saturday after a deadly vehicle accident caused a fire at an Illinois pumping station.

The Canadian company said it was forced to shut down the 318,000 barrel-a-day "14/64" line between Superior, Wisconsin, and Griffith, Indiana, after the early-morning collision, which caused a blaze and a spill of crude near New Lenox, Illinois. That's equivalent to about 3 percent of total U.S. imports.

Enbridge, whose network carries the bulk of Canadian oil exports to the U.S. Midwest, said it did not know when the pipeline could resume flowing. It has slowed the flow of oil in two pipelines in Canada, Lines 2B and 3, which feed a total of 800,000 bpd supply into the system at Superior, Enbridge said.

"An estimated startup time is not known at this time," Enbridge spokeswoman Lorraine Little said in an email. "An update will be provided when local emergency crews and Enbridge are able to assess the extent of the damage."

Typically, minor damage to above-ground pipelines can be repaired within a week or two, barring serious environmental issues, although major damage or an extended investigation into the accident could prolong the closure.

Enbridge said it had also shut another major line between Superior and Griffith, called 6 A, as a precaution early on Saturday, but restarted it several hours later. The company's total system carries some 2 million bpd of crude.

This is Enbridge's system schematic: r.reuters.com/gyr86s

Enbridge did not provide an estimate of the amount of spilled crude.   Continued...