SINGAPORE // Enbridge said today it had cleaned up most of the oil leaked by the largest crude pipeline connecting the United States and Canada, but had no estimate for when shipments would resume. Oil prices jumped to one-month highs above $77 today, partly on expectations that US crude inventories would decline while the pipeline was shut. "Line 6A remains shut down and there is no current estimate of when the line will be restarted," Enbridge said in a statement.
"Enbridge's schedulers are working with shippers to divert crude oil volumes to other available pipelines and storage facilities." Enbridge on Thursday halted the flow of 459,000 barrels per day through the line, which connects Canadian production with four Midwest refineries and the pricing hub for US crude benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) at Cushing, Oklahoma. The pipeline was operating below its capacity of 670,000 bpd.
The suspension of shipments has the potential to reduce flows to Cushing by around 300,000 bpd, according to JP Morgan oil analysts headed by Lawrence Eagles, taking into account the potential to pump crude via alternative routes. Enbridge said today it had cleaned up 6,050 barrels of crude of the 6,100 barrels leaked. A section of the pipeline would have to be removed so the repair could be made, the US Environmenal Protection Agency said yesterday.
That section would have to be replaced and inspections made by federal regulators before use of the line can resume. Heightened environmental scrutiny following BP's oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico this year has prevented the resumption of flows through a smaller Enbridge pipeline that was also closed because of a leak six weeks ago. "Such leaks are not unusual, and in normal circumstances we would expect the line to be up and running in a matter of days," but a rapid restart of the most recently shuttered pipeline is unlikely because of a 'lengthy' environmental review process," JP Morgan said.