Keystone pipeline in South Dakota shut down after leak detected

17 November, 2017, 01:35 | Author: Valerie Burke
  • Crews cleaning up Keystone Pipeline leak in Marshall County

TransCanada Corp has shut part of its Keystone pipeline after 5,000 barrels of oil leaked in Amherst, South Dakota, the company said on Thursday, four days before the state of Nebraska was due to decide on an expansion of the system. The cause was being investigated. The pipeline is not yet ten years old - and has leaked dozens of times, spilling hundreds of thousands of gallons along its route. It can handle almost 600,000 barrels, or about 23 million gallons, daily.

The company said that crews shut down the pipeline Thursday morning after a drop in pressure was detected resulting from an oil leak that's under investigation. This does not affect the Marketlink pipeline system, which uses the facilities of the southern leg of the Keystone system from Cushing to the Gulf Coast. It did not offer a time estimate. TransCanada is providing state and federal regulators, including the Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration and the National Response Center, with accurate and confirmed information on an ongoing basis.

Keystone XL, if built, would cut diagonally through South Dakota. The estimated volume of the leak is approximately 5,000 barrels. Investigators determined a weld problem was to blame in that spill. No waterways or aquifers were affected. The substance flowing through the Keystone pipeline is known as diluted bitumen, or "dilbit", because the bitumen (the crude oil itself) is so thick and sticky it must be diluted in order to effectively flow through the system.

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One of those leaks happened in southeastern North Dakota in May 2011, when 14,000 gallons spilled after a valve failed at a pumping station near the South Dakota border.

TransCanada is seeking approval from the Nebraska Public Service Commission for the final section of a second pipeline project, the Keystone XL. The project has been delayed for several years and was revived this year through an executive order by President Trump. Nebraska regulators plan to announce their decision next week.

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