Enbridge Line 14 pipeline expected to restart Wed: official

Tue Jul 31, 2012 1:46pm EDT

Enbridge Inc. CEO Patrick Daniel speaks during their annual general meeting for shareholders in Toronto, May 9, 2012. REUTERS/Mark Blinch

Enbridge Inc. CEO Patrick Daniel speaks during their annual general meeting for shareholders in Toronto, May 9, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Mark Blinch

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(Reuters) - Enbridge Inc could get approval from U.S. regulators to restart the Line 14 crude oil pipeline by Wednesday evening after a spill in Wisconsin forced its closure, a local official said.

The 318,000-barrels-per-day Line 14, which carries Canadian crude to refiners in the Midwest, was shut on Friday after the discovery of the spill that leaked more than 1,000 barrels of crude, covering one nearby house with oil.

Line repairs were expected to be completed on Tuesday, prior to testing by the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), Ed Culhane, spokesman for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, said.

"They expect to have the line running again by the evening of August 1 at the latest," Culhane said.

"I wouldn't be surprised if the line is repaired already, then they need to X-ray the welds before filling it with water at a higher pressure than the crude normally runs to test it."

Culhane said if the line passes the test, it could be refilled with crude by Wednesday night.

U.S. pipeline regulators on Monday said no decision had been made on whether Enbridge would have to take any corrective measures before a restart. PHMSA officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Tuesday.

"I think we're progressing nicely with our repairs," Jennifer Smith, Enbridge's local community relations adviser, said on Tuesday.

The leak, which came almost two years to the day after a ruptured Enbridge line spilled more than 20,000 barrels of oil and fouled part of the Kalamazoo River in Michigan, was the latest in a series of incidents that threaten to damage the reputation of a company that launched its most ambitious expansion program two months ago.

Enbridge kicked off one of the most sweeping expansions in its history just two months ago, announcing a multibillion-dollar series of projects aimed at moving western Canada and North Dakota oil to Eastern refineries and eliminating costly bottlenecks in the U.S. Midwest.

Line 14 is a 24-inch diameter pipe that was installed in 1998, making it a relatively new line. Enbridge said it had been inspected twice in the past five years.

Canada is the largest source of foreign crude for the United States, supplying over 2.4 million bpd of the more than 8.3 million bpd imported by the nation on average in July. Enbridge's lines, the world's largest crude oil pipeline system, carry the lion's share of those shipments.

(Reporting by David Sheppard and Matthew Robinson in New York; Editing by Gerald E. McCormick, Dale Hudson and Andrew Hay)

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