November 7, 2016 / 10:42 PM / 10 months ago

U.S. oil hub works to resume normal operations after 5.0 earthquake

NEW YORK, Nov 7 (Reuters) - U.S. pipeline companies with operations at the heart of the country's commercial oil industry restarted on Monday after a 5.0-magnitude earthquake late on Sunday triggered safety shutdowns.

The epicenter of the earthquake was just 2 miles (3.2 km) from Cushing, Oklahoma, the delivery point for one of the world's benchmark oil prices and the home to storage tanks holding nearly 60 million barrels of crude.

Checks on the extensive network of pipelines and fuel tanks in the area showed no significant damage from the tremor, Oklahoma Corporation Commission spokesman Matt Skinner said.

Magellan Midstream Partners LP said it safely restarted its Cushing assets overnight after the earthquake and Enbridge Inc said its Cushing-area tanks and pipelines were unharmed in the earthquake.

The Cushing Water Department said it will shut down Highway 18 to repair a water main break caused by the earthquake on Sunday. About 40 to 50 buildings were damaged by the quake, local officials said.

Oklahoma has been shaken by a series of earthquakes that the state has said are tied to disposal of wastewater from hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. Sunday's quake was among the larger temblors felt recently in Oklahoma.

About two months ago a magnitude 5.6 quake, the strongest ever recorded in Oklahoma, shook the area, but was centered farther from the oil hub.

Oklahoma earthquakes of a 3.0 magnitude or greater rose to 907 in 2015 from just 36 in 2012. If state restrictions on wastewater injection are successful in curbing the growth this year, it would mark the first drop since 2012.

After the September quake, Oklahoma's oil and gas regulator told companies to curtail intake volumes at 67 wastewater wells spread across 1,116 square miles around the quake's epicenter.

That directive expanded on the previous wastewater disposal restrictions.

Additional reporting by Jon Herskovitz in Texas and Heide Brandes in Oklahoma; Editing by Simon Webb and Lisa Shumaker

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