* Athabasca line flowing at about 280,000 bpd
* Impact on pricing minimal so far
CALGARY, Alberta, June 20 Enbridge Inc
restarted a major Alberta oil sands pipeline late on Tuesday,
hours after regulators ordered it shut due to an oil spill at a
pumping station in the latest incident to raise fears over
pipeline safety in Canada.
Enbridge, whose lines carry the bulk of Canadian oil exports
to the United States, said the failure of a piece of equipment
on the Athabasca Pipeline caused more than 1,400 barrels of oil
sands-derived crude to leak in a rural area.
The company said it was able to bypass the pumping station
at Elk Point in northeastern Alberta. The pipeline was flowing
at about 280,000 barrels per day on Wednesday, which is 65,000
bpd under capacity.
"Elk Point Station will remain on bypass until the site is
cleaned, the terms of the return to work plan met, and the
(Alberta Energy Resources Conservation Board) gives approval to
restart the station," Enbridge spokesman Graham White said in an
The incident, the second leak from a pipeline system in
Alberta in under two weeks, occurred as Enbridge seeks to build
the C$5.5 billion ($5.4 billion) Northern Gateway pipeline to
the Pacific Coast from Alberta amid opposition from
environmentalists and some British Columbia native groups whose
lands the line would cross.
A crude trading source said there was no immediate impact on
prices for Canadian oil, due to the short duration of the outage
and its timing between the three-week periods during which
monthly crude deals are done.
However, it could have some impact if the line runs under
capacity for a prolonged period, the source said.
Prices for heavy crude derived from Alberta's vast tar sands
have been under pressure this year, partly due to a combination
of surging production and tight export pipeline capacity.
The 540-km (335-mile) line carries oil to Hardisty, Alberta,
from the tar sands center of Fort McMurray. Hardisty is a major
pipeline hub from which crude gets fed into networks of export
lines to the United States, such as Enbridge's mainline and
TransCanada Corp's Keystone Pipeline.
Its capacity equals about 22 percent of Canada's 1.6 million
barrels a day of oil sands production.