UPDATE 3-In remote field, North Dakota suffers first big oil spill

Thu Oct 10, 2013 4:16pm EDT
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By Selam Gebrekidan

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

The pipeline was carrying crude oil from the Bakken shale play, which has lifted North Dakota into the No. 2 spot in terms of oil production among U.S. states. The affected part of the line has been shut down, Tesoro said.

The leak, first discovered by a landowner on Sept. 29 in a low-lying hilltop nine miles northeast of Tioga, North Dakota, 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, the spill would rank among the country's biggest in recent years. U.S. pipelines are pumping more oil than ever to bring shale oil and Canadian crude to refiners, and critics are raising questions about safety.

Authorities said there were no surface bodies of water like lakes, streams or rivers within a five-mile radius of the site. Still, the incident could add to a fractious political debate over the construction of more pipelines, such as the much larger Keystone XL from Canada to Oklahoma.

San Antonio, Texas-based Tesoro Logistics said the leak occurred on a small, 6-inch diameter pipeline that Was carrying Bakken oil to the Stampede rail facility, outside Columbus, North Dakota.

The line is part of the company's "High Plains" pipeline system in North Dakota and Montana, which gathers oil from the Bakken shale and delivers it to another Enbridge pipeline and Tesoro's 68,000 bpd Mandan refinery in North Dakota.   Continued...