UPDATE 5-In remote field, North Dakota oil boom suffers first big spill

Thu Oct 10, 2013 6:57pm EDT
 
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By Todd Melby and Selam Gebrekidan

TIOGA, North Dakota/NEW YORK Oct 10 (Reuters) - A Tesoro Logistics LP pipeline has spilled more than 20,000 barrels of crude oil into a North Dakota wheat field, the biggest leak in the state since it became a major U.S. producer.

The six-inch pipeline was carrying crude oil from the Bakken shale play to the Stampede rail facility outside Columbus, North Dakota. The affected part of the line has been shut down, Tesoro said.

Farmer Steven Jensen discovered the leak on Sept. 29 while harvesting wheat on his 1,800-acre farm, about nine miles northeast of Tioga, North Dakota.

Oil was gushing from the pipeline "like a faucet, 4 to 6 inches spewing out," said Jensen, who added that nearby wheat plants were ruined.

The leak did not pose an immediate threat to groundwater sources, Kris Roberts, who leads the environmental response team at the state Department of Health told Reuters.

At an estimated 20,600 barrels, it ranks among the biggest U.S. spills in recent years. It is the biggest oil leak on U.S. land since March, when the rupture of an Exxon Mobil pipeline in Mayflower, Arkansas spilled 5,000 to 7,000 barrels of heavy Canadian crude.

It comes at a time when concerns are growing over the safety of the U.S. pipeline network, which is pumping more oil than ever to bring shale oil and Canadian crude to U.S. refiners.   Continued...