Pipeline leak forces Enbridge to shut-down another Lakehead System line; oil prices spike

By Phaedra Friend Troy

Enbridge Energy Partners (NYSE:EEP) shut-down the Line 6A pipeline of the Lakehead System after a leak was found in Romeoville, Illinois, near Chicago.

The major pipeline company issued a statement about the incident, stressing that Line 6A was shut-down “within minutes” and that there were no injuries related to the spill.

"As with all pipeline spills, Enbridge is treating this situation as a top priority," said Terrance McGill, president of the partnership. "Safety is our top priority, and Enbridge will do everything we can to minimize the impact on the environment, neighboring landowners and communities.”

Oil from the pipeline spilled onto a roadway and a retention pond, but the amount that escaped has not been identified.

Enbridge crews have been deployed with booms as a precautionary measure, and the spilled oil is already being vacuumed by vacuum trucks. Additional equipment to aid in the clean-up is on its way.

The appropriate authorities and regulators have been informed of the incident, and the cause of the leak has not yet been determined.

“Enbridge's environmental response team is working closely with local agencies and all emergency officials to complete the clean up as quickly as possible," McGill said.

While an investigation into the cause of the leak is inevitable, a timeline for the re-start of the pipeline was not given.

With a capacity for 670,000 barrels a day, Line 6A is a 34-inch-diameter pipeline that measures 467 miles long and transports light synthetics, and heavy and medium crude oil from Superior, Wisconsin, to Griffith, Indiana. Part of the 1,900-mile Lakehead System, which is the US portion of the world’s largest pipeline, Line 6A also connects to pipelines that transport oil to storage in Cushing, Oklahoma.

Another section of the massive Lakehead System, Line 6B has been shut down for some six weeks for a leak that spilled oil into the Kalamazoo River in Michigan.

With these two sections down, the price of oil climbed to nearly $76 a barrel on Friday, a three-week high. The spike in the price of oil most likely stemmed from US inventories being offset by the shut-down.

Enbridge transports 69 percent of Western Canada’s crude oil, which is 11 percent of the oil that the US imports daily.

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