Enbridge Cleaning Up Wisconsin Oil Spill, But Pipeline Still Closed

Enbridge Inc. said it planned on Monday to replace a section of an oil pipeline in Wisconsin that leaked Friday, though it doesn't have a restart date for the key energy artery carrying Canadian crude to the U.S.

The company reopened three other pipelines Saturday that had been shuttered after the spill from the Line 14 pipe, which released an estimated 1,200 barrels of oil near Grand Marsh, Wis.

The Wisconsin incident is being investigated by Enbridge and U.S. regulators, and comes at a sensitive time as the Canadian company presses ahead with controversial expansion plans two years after a much larger spill from a pipeline in Michigan.

Enbridge said Sunday that it exposed the damaged pipe in Wisconsin and moved a "majority" of the contaminated soil. "A new section of pipe is tentatively scheduled to be installed on July 30," said Enbridge spokeswoman Lorraine Little in an email.

Line 14 is operated by Houston-based affiliate Enbridge Energy Partners LP, and has a capacity of 317,600 barrels a day of crude oil to Chicago area refineries. It carries nearly a fifth of total crude imports into the region, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Enbridge said Saturday that representatives from the Environmental Protection Agency, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources are on site.

"At this time, Enbridge does not have an estimated time for restart for Line 14. Line 13 was restarted late Saturday evening. Lines 6A and 61 were safely returned to service early Saturday morning," said Ms. Little.

Midwest oil inventories stand at almost 110 million barrels, a near-record high, according to the EIA. The build-up is due in part to an oil drilling boom in south Texas, North Dakota and other regions, as recent advances in drilling technology unlocked oil and natural gas from shale formations formerly considered uneconomical.

The Wisconsin incident comes two years after an oil spill from an Enbridge pipeline in Michigan, one of the worst oil spills ever in the U.S. Midwest. The July 2010 spill led to one of the costliest ever onshore cleanups in U.S. history.

An Enbridge pipeline spilled about 1,450 barrels of oil in Alberta last month.

Copyright (c) 2012 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.


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