* Estimated 1,000-3,000 bbls of crude spills into river
* Plains shuts down 10 km (6 miles) of pipeline system
* Plains brings in drinking water for local residents
By Jeffrey Jones
CALGARY, Alberta, June 8 Plains Midstream Canada
said on Friday it shut part of a pipeline in west-central
Alberta after crude leaked into a large river system just as the
company was close to finishing its cleanup of a big year-old
spill in the province.
Plains Midstream, a unit of Houston-based Plains All
American, estimated that 1,000-3,000 barrels of light,
sour crude - oil that has a high sulfur content - leaked from a
12-inch line on its Rangeland south system into a tributary of
the Red Deer River, a large waterway that runs cross
Streamflows are high due to recent heavy rainfall and snow
melt from the Rocky Mountains to the West, which will make
The company said it has deployed booms at a reservoir that
doubles as a resort area and has brought in drinking water for
local residents as a precaution.
Plains shut down about 10 km (6 miles) of pipeline from the
Rangeland system, an 83,000-barrel-a-day network that consists
of 1,225 km (761 miles) of gathering lines that move oil from
production facilities and trunk lines that carry it to market.
According to Crude Quality Inc, which tracks refining
characteristics of oil, the system moves mostly conventional
light crude from fields in west-central Alberta to Edmonton-area
refineries or to the U.S. border, where it connects with the
Glacier pipeline system.
The company said the pipeline segment was not flowing oil
when the release occurred. Crude market sources said they had
not seen prices react to the incident.
"Immediately upon receiving notification of the release,
Plains' pipeline operations in the area were shut down and
valves were closed to isolate area pipelines," Plains said in a
It said it is working with regulators and investigating the
cause of the leak. It dispatched crews and aircraft to the scene
near Sundre, a town of 2,600 people, located 130 km (80 miles)
northwest of Calgary.
"It has entered the Red Deer River and (the river) is at
very high flow volume," said Bob Curran, spokesman with
Alberta's Energy Resources Conservation Board. "They've got
crews out with booms. I don't know the exact numbers but I do
know that they've responded with people on the ground."
Despite the sour crude's strong odor, there is no health
danger to the public, Plains said.
Alberta Premier Alison Redford, who was on her way to the
site on Friday, sought to assure residents that all necessary
resources would be deployed to limit the environmental impact
and protect health and safety.
Despite recent spills, Redford said Alberta has an
"internationally recognized pipeline system supported by a
strong regulatory framework."
"This incident will be investigated and the ministers of
Energy and Environment and Sustainable Resource Development will
review the findings and take further action if required," she
said in a statement.
Last year, much of Plains' 187,000-barrel-a-day Rainbow oil
pipeline in northern Alberta was shut down for four months after
a rupture spilled 28,000 barrels of crude near a native
community in late April. It was one of the largest spills in
Alberta in decades.
The company said this month it was putting the final touches
on reclamation efforts.
Pipeline spills come at a crucial time for the energy
industry, with operations under the microscope as companies try
to advance plans for major trunk lines from Alberta, such as the
Keystone XL pipeline to Texas and Northern Gateway pipeline to
Canada's Pacific Coast.
Opponents of those projects pounce on any indication that
crude oil transport comes with risks of environmental damage.
"How many times does this have to happen before governments
stop accepting the company's assurances that they are taking
environmental protection seriously?," Greenpeace climate and
energy campaigner Mike Hudema said in a statement "We need a
full public review of pipeline safety especially before new
pipelines carrying even more corrosive substances are approved."