The section of the Keystone oil pipeline in North Dakota where some 9,000 barrels of crude spilled last month will remain shut until operator TC Energy, formerly TransCanada submits a restart and return-to-service plan.
The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) found that if the pipeline continued to operate before repairs were completed, it would be dangerous for local communities and the environment, Reuters reports.
The pipeline leak affected about 22,500 square feet (2,090 square meters) of land between Edinburg and the pump stations near Niagara, North Dakota, according to CTV News Canada. The order also requires that the company send the affected portion of the pipe to an independent laboratory for testing.
“After considering the age of the pipe, the circumstances surrounding the failure, the hazardous nature of the product being transported, the pressure required for transporting the material, the other recent failures of the Keystone Pipeline in 2016 and November 2017,... I find that a failure to issue this Order expeditiously to require immediate corrective action would result in likely serious harm to life, property, and the environment,” PHMSA’s associate administrator for pipeline safety, Alan Mayberry, said in the order, reports OilPrice.com
The 590,000-barrel-per-day Keystone pipeline is vital for moving Canada's heavy crude into the United States where it is blended with other oils and refined into gasoline, diesel and other fuels. This is the second time the pipeline has been shut down, In October, TC Energy shut down the pipeline declaring force majeure after severe snowstorms in Manitoba.
While there is no estimate for how long the pipeline will be down for repairs, anti-pipeline activists have taken notice, and this latest oil spill will only strengthen the arguments against more pipelines. The immediate effect of the pipeline shut sown will be on Canadian crude prices, which are still trading at a substantial discount to WTI.