Dec 8 (Reuters) – Canada’s TC Energy shut down its Keystone pipeline in the United States after more than 14,000 barrels of crude oil spilled into a Kansas creek, making it one of the largest oil spills crude in the United States for almost a decade.
The cause of the leak, which occurred in Kansas about 20 miles (32 km) south of a key junction in Steele City, Nebraska, is unknown. This is the third spill of several thousand barrels of crude on the pipeline since it opened in 2010.
The Keystone Line, with a capacity of 622,000 barrels per day, is a critical artery that carries heavy Canadian crude from Alberta to refiners in the US Midwest and Gulf Coast. It is not known how long the closure will last.
There were no effects on drinking water wells or the public, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said in a statement, although surface waters in Mill Creek were affected.
Kellan Ashford, spokesman for EPA Region 7, which includes Kansas, said the cause of the leak was still unclear as of Thursday night.
TC had mobilized about 100 people to respond to the spill, while the EPA had dispatched two coordinators, Ashford said. Washington County Emergency Management and the Kansas Department of Health and Safety were also at the scene.
Keystone closed the line around 8 p.m. CT Wednesday (0200 GMT Thursday) after alarms sounded and system pressure dropped, TC (TRP.TO) said in a statement. He said booms were being used to contain the spill.
BIGGEST SPILL ON LAND IN YEARS
According to data from the US Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), this would be the largest crude oil spill since a Tesoro pipeline leaked more than 20,000 barrels of oil in North Dakota in October 2013.
PHMSA is also investigating the leak, which occurred near Washington, Kansas, a city of about 1,000 people.
There have been seven Keystone spills since it was commissioned in June 2010, according to PHMSA data. The largest were in December 2017, when more than 6,600 barrels spilled in South Dakota, and in November 2019, when more than 4,500 barrels spilled in North Dakota, according to figures from the PHMSA.
“It’s disturbing to see so many outages and so much oil being spilled from a pipeline, but it’s especially disturbing from a relatively new pipeline,” said Bill Caram, executive director of the nonprofit Pipeline Safety. Trust, in a statement.
The spill comes about two months after TC announced it would temporarily increase system capacity to test certain operations. TC has a special permit to operate Keystone at a higher stress level than other U.S. crude lines, according to a 2021 Government Accountability Office (GAO) on spills in 2017 and 2019.
THE DURATION OF THE STOP IS UNCLEAR
TC declared force majeure over the outage, according to a source with direct knowledge, referring to unforeseen external circumstances that prevent a party to a contract from fulfilling its obligations. TC did not respond to a request for comment.
Two Keystone shippers said TC has not yet informed them of how long the pipeline will be closed.
The closure of Keystone will hamper deliveries of Canadian crude both to the US storage facility in Cushing, Oklahoma, and to the Gulf, where it is processed by refiners or exported.
The shutdown is expected to increase the discount on Western Canada Select (WCS) heavy oil from Alberta relative to U.S. crude, which was already high due to weak demand for heavy, sour Canadian oil.
WCS for December delivery was trading at $33.50 a barrel below WTI, compared to $27.50 a barrel below the benchmark on Wednesday, according to a broker.
“It’s really a worst-case scenario if this outage lasts a long time,” said Rory Johnston, founder of energy newsletter Commodity Context, noting that if the price drops further, shippers may choose to transport crude by road. of iron. In addition, Gulf Coast heavy grades and Latin American grades could see their prices rise, analysts said.
Steele City is roughly the junction where Keystone splits, with one segment carrying crude to refineries in Illinois and the other carrying oil south to Oklahoma and the Gulf Coast.
If the spill is located south of the junction, TC may be able to quickly restart the segment to Illinois, RBC analyst Robert Kwan said in a note.
Past closures have typically lasted about two weeks, but it could be longer because it’s a body of water, Kwan said.
Shares of TC ended down 0.1% in Toronto.
Reporting by Arpan Varghese, Brijesh Patel and Deep Vakil in Bengaluru, Rod Nickel, Nia Williams and Arathy Somasekhar; Editing by Josie Kao and Stephen Coates
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