* Almost two months since Mayflower, Arkansas, spill
* Arkansas politicians demand part of line rerouted
By David Sheppard
NEW YORK May 24 Exxon Mobil Corp is
still waiting for test results from the ruptured section of its
95,000 barrel-per-day (bpd) Pegasus pipeline, almost two months
after it spewed 5,000 barrels of oil into an Arkansas suburb,
the company said on Friday.
The Pegasus spill intensified the debate about the safety of
transporting oil from Canada's tar sands across the United
States. After a second far-smaller spill was discovered on the
nearly 70-year-old line in Missouri last month, speculation has
mounted the line could be down for much longer than initially
The Pegasus line, which carries heavy Canadian crude from
Patoka, Illinois, to Nederland, Texas, has been shut since it
first burst in late March, leading to the evacuations of homes
in Mayflower, Arkansas, and sparking a huge cleanup effort.
"It is premature to speculate on future plans for the
pipeline until the investigation into the cause of the incident
is completed," said Exxon Mobil spokesman Aaron Stryk in an
"We are still waiting on the results from the metallurgic
lab testing. The information we gain from the investigation into
the cause will inform the development of our plans in the
Exxon cut out a 52-feet (15.8 meters) section of the damaged
pipeline in mid-April and sent it to an independent third-party
laboratory to try to determine the cause of the spill.
Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel, who launched an
investigation into the oil spill, said in April the rupture was
more than 22 feet (6.7 meters) long and two inches (5 cm) wide.
The shutdown of the line has seen large volumes of crude
oil on the Keystone pipeline from Canada diverted into Cushing,
Oklahoma, delivery point of the U.S. crude oil contract.
Keystone normally splits at Steele City, Nebraska, before
flowing to either Cushing or Patoka, but the shutdown of Pegasus
has seen oil back up around the Illinois terminal.
SENATORS WANT LINE REROUTED
Politicians in Arkansas have asked Exxon to relocate a 13.5
mile section of the line that runs through the Lake Maumelle
watershed, the main source of drinking water for the state's
largest city, Little Rock.
"The only way to eliminate all risks posed by the pipeline
to Lake Maumelle is to relocate the Pegasus pipeline out of its
watershed," said U.S. Senators Mark Pryor, John Boozman, and
other Arkansas politicians in the letter dated May 15 and
published on the arkansasmatters.com website.
"The Lake Maumelle Government Stakeholders expect immediate
action on our request to relocate this pipeline out of the
watershed and to see this project completed within 3-5 years."
The letter also requests a series of shorter-term steps the
Government Stakeholders group wants Exxon to take before
restarting the line, including adding remote isolation valves to
the section that runs through the watershed.
The U.S. Department of Transportation Pipeline and Hazardous
Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) requires Exxon to submit
a detailed start-up plan to the regulator for approval before it
can use the line again.
Two weeks ago, PHMSA threw out an appeal by Exxon to let
them restart a section of the line below the site of the spill,
with the regulator ruling its 'Corrective Action Order' should
remain in place on the entire 850 mile length of the line.
Other companies are also waiting to see when the line will
Sunoco Logistics Partners LP said earlier this month
that the start-up of a 40,000 bpd section of its West
Texas-to-Nederland Texas on the Gulf Coast pipeline has been
delayed until Pegasus has been repaired, as it connects into the
A spokesperson for Sunoco declined to comment on Friday.