By David Sheppard
NEW YORK, June 12 Exxon Mobil Corp was
granted time by regulators to carry out a second round of
testing on the ruptured Pegasus oil pipeline, after the firm
said an initial investigation into the reason the nearly
70-year-old line failed was not conclusive.
The 95,000-barrel-per-day (bpd) line has been shut since
spilling thousands of barrels of heavy Canadian crude oil into
the town of Mayflower, Arkansas, in late March, and questions
have been raised over whether it will ever be restarted.
State politicians have asked Exxon to relocate a 13.5-mile
section of the line away from Little Rock's drinking supply as
safety concerns about transporting Canada's tar sands on ageing
U.S. infrastructure have mounted.
U.S. Department of Transportation's Pipeline and Hazardous
Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) has granted Exxon until
July 10 for further testing of the failed pipe as long as the
companies provides "information regarding the additional testing
In May, the first independent report into Pegasus's failure
was sent to Exxon and PHMSA by a third-party laboratory.
Exxon has said the Hurst Metallurgical Research Laboratory
needs more time for additional testing of the 52-foot (15.8
meters) section of the damaged pipeline.
"On review of the draft report, EMPCo (Exxon Mobil Pipeline
Company) believes additional mechanical and metallurgical
testing is warranted to better understand the pipe properties
and potential failure mechanisms," EMPCo said in a letter to
PHMSA dated June 6.
Pegasus normally carries heavy Canadian crude from Patoka,
Illinois, to Nederland, Texas. With the shutdown of the line,
large volumes of crude oil have been diverted into Cushing,
Oklahoma, the delivery point of the U.S. crude oil contract.
PHMSA declined to comment on the extension, beyond its
public response to Exxon on June 6.
A spokesman for Exxon said the firm would "continue to work
cooperatively with the agency on any follow-up actions."
Exxon said in late May it would not decide on the line's
future until the investigation was completed.