Keystone oil pipeline resumes partial operations

Keystone Spill Kansas
In this photo taken by a drone, cleanup continues in the area where the ruptured Keystone pipeline dumped oil into a creek in Washington County, Kan., Friday, Dec. 9, 2022. (DroneBase via AP) AP

Keystone oil pipeline resumes partial operations

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The Keystone oil pipeline linking the United States to Canada has resumed operations along areas unaffected by a leak discovered in Kansas last week, which spilled roughly 14,000 barrels of oil into a creek.

In the meantime, pipeline operator TC Energy said it is continuing to investigate the cause of the spill, which was discovered on Dec. 8. The incident ranks as the largest leak in Keystone history and is among the top five onshore spills in the U.S. this decade.

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“This restart facilitates safe transportation of the energy that customers and North Americans rely on and extends from Hardisty, Alberta, to Wood River/Patoka, Illinois,” TC Energy said in an emailed statement.

The timeline for reopening the full Keystone pipeline remains unclear since operators must submit both a root cause failure analysis and their restart plans to the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. Neither had been submitted as of Thursday.

Some state lawmakers have taken issue with a special exemption that was granted to the Keystone pipeline by federal regulators in 2017.

This exemption, according to a GAO report, allowed it to operate at 80% of the maximum recommended pressure, compared to the 72% pressure granted to normal pipelines.

“PHMSA issued the special permit with 51 conditions that the agency determined would offset the risks of operating the relevant Keystone segments at 80 percent of (the pressure limit) in non-high consequence areas. PHMSA did not allow TC Energy to fully operate Keystone at this higher stress level until 2017,” read the report.

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U.S. oil prices have climbed slightly higher on the news of the shutdown amid fears that a prolonged outage could curtail supplies at delivery points in Cushing, Oklahoma, and along the Gulf Coast.

The pipeline is different from the canceled Keystone XL pipeline that was the subject of bitter debate for years.

© 2022 Washington Examiner

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