CALGARY - Kinder Morgan Energy Partners L.P.'s said Thursday that it shut down a major Canadian oil pipeline after it leaked an estimated 20 to 25 barrels of crude oil into the ground near the British Columbia town of Hope, about 100 miles east of Vancouver.
It comes as the second spill in as many weeks on the Trans Mountain Pipeline, which moves crude oil and refined products from Alberta to terminals and refineries on Canada's west coast.
"It looks like it may be a small crack in the line," said Andrew Galarnyk, a Calgary-based spokesman for Kinder Morgan Canada.
As a precautionary measure, the company said it shut down the pipeline, a major artery for diluted bitumen extracted from Albertan oil sands, while it investigates the cause of the leak and cleans up soil contaminated by the spill, Mr. Galarnyk said.
Approximately 20 to 25 barrels worth of oil was released about 40 kilometers east of the town of Hope, but no waterways or wildlife were impacted, Kinder Morgan said in a statement.
Earlier this month, the Trans Mountain line released about six barrels of crude oil in southwestern British Columbia near the town of Kingsvale. That spill followed Apache Corp.'s disclosure the same week of a pipeline spill in northern Alberta that released 2.5 million gallons of contaminated water, affecting an area of about 104 acres.
Scrutiny of North America's network of pipelines has been ramping up amid several recent spills in the U.S. and a boom in production of crude.
In the latest incident, Canada's National Energy Board said Kinder Morgan found contaminated soil on government-owned land along the pipeline right-of-way while conducting scheduled maintenance. It said there was no immediate safety concern for local residents.
Kinder Morgan said it was working to repair the pipeline and has been cooperating with federal regulators.
The NEB said an investigation of the spill earlier this month on the same line is still underway, adding it will look to determine if the incidents are related.
Copyright (c) 2012 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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