December 1, 2007 / 4:16 AM / 10 years ago

Enbridge sees full recovery from pipe blast in days

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Enbridge Inc expects the rest of its huge Canada-to-U.S. crude pipeline system to return to normal within a “matter of days” after an explosion rocked a Minnesota section of the line on Wednesday, killing two workers.

Three of the four lines in the system, which accounts for more than 10 percent of U.S. crude oil imports, had already restarted with the last of them expected to return by early next week, a spokesman said.

“At the moment, we anticipate Line 3 will be back over the weekend or early next week,” said Enbridge spokesman Larry Springer. “It will be a matter of days.” Enbridge had said on Thursday that Line 3 would be shut for two or three days.

Springer said the system was running at 80 percent rates on Friday morning and he added that U.S. federal pipeline regulators had not requested Enbridge slow operations during an investigation into the blast.

U.S. crude oil prices, which had briefly surged more than $4 Thursday on the news, slumped to a one-month low Friday of $87.54 per barrel on Enbridge’s speedy recovery.

“We went from almost losing Canada to having the thing fixed in a day,” said John Kilduff, energy analyst at MF Global in New York.

The explosion struck Line 3 in Clearbrook, Minnesota, Wednesday afternoon during repair work, killing two workers and briefly forcing the entire system to shut.

Springer said workers were still cleaning up the accident site and inspecting the damaged line, which was under repairs when the explosion occurred.

“The next step will be to remove the section of the pipe they were initially trying to remove. That may occur today,” Springer said. “Then we will proceed with replacing a section of the pipe and once that’s done we can bring it back.”

The accident comes after four other leaks on the Enbridge system this year.

The pipeline system can carry 1.8 million barrels of Canadian crude per day. Enbridge said in November only about 1.2 million bpd of that ends up in the U.S. market with the rest continuing into eastern Canada.

Reporting by Richard Valdmanis; Editing by John Picinich

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