March 19, 2012 / 7:48 PM / 6 years ago

Cleaning tool disconnects in Keystone oil pipeline

CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) - Part of a pipeline cleaning tool disconnected within TransCanada Corp’s (TRP.TO) Canada-to-United States Keystone oil pipeline, but the incident was not affecting the line’s operation or flow rate, the company said on Monday.

TransCanada was using the inline tool, known in industry coin as a “pig”, as part of normal maintenance when the piece broke off, spokesman Terry Cunha said.

“We have worked with our customers to make adjustments to volumes flowing through Keystone while allowing them to meet their needs,” Cunha said in an email.

The pipeline is currently moving 500,000 barrels a day, down from its capacity of 591,000, he said. It does not normally operate at full capacity rates.

Canada’s oil industry has been hit in recent weeks with a host of operational problems, including the shutdown of an Enbridge Inc (ENB.TO) pipeline in the U.S. Midwest early this month.

Enbridge shut the 318,0000 bpd line, known as Line 14/64, following a deadly incident in which a car crashed into an above-ground section at a pump station in Illinois, when the vehicle lost control during an early-morning drag race.

The pipeline was shut for several days, pressuring already-weak Canadian crude prices.

TransCanada’s Keystone line extends to the U.S. Midwest and to Cushing, Oklahoma, from the pipeline hub of Hardisty, Alberta. The controversial Keystone XL expansion would boost capacity to 1.4 million barrels a day and extend the system to the U.S. Gulf Coast.

Reporting by Jeffrey Jones and Robert Gibbons; Editing by Peter Galloway

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