CALGARY, Alberta, June 12 Plains Midstream
Canada is not yet able to say what caused one of its pipelines
to leak as much as much as 3,000 barrels of oil into an Alberta
river last week as it focuses on cleaning up the mess, a company
official said on Tuesday.
Plains Midstream, a unit of Plains All American Pipeline LP
, said the spill last Thursday in central Alberta has
been contained and testing has shown that water downstream meets
provincial drinking-water standards.
The company cannot yet say what caused the breach, the
second for its Alberta pipelines in just over a year, and does
not know if maintenance practices were a factor in the breach of
the 46-year-old pipeline.
"Our focus here should be on clean up," Stephen Bart, the
company's vice-president, crude oil operations, said at a press
conference. "There will be a time to investigate the cause and
further discussion ... about maintenance practices can be had at
The spill comes at a crucial time for the energy industry,
with operations under the microscope as companies try to advance
plans for major trunk lines from Alberta, such as the Keystone
XL pipeline to Texas and Northern Gateway pipeline to Canada's
Plains estimates that 1,000-3,000 barrels of light, sour
crude - oil that has a high sulfur content - leaked from a
12-inch line on its Rangeland south system into a tributary of
the Red Deer River, a large waterway that runs cross
The company says the oil has been contained by booms on a
small portion of a reservoir, where it is being skimmed from the
surface. There has been little impact on air quality in the
region and only one goose has been found to be contaminated with
Bart said Plains has plugged up the section of pipe that
leaked underneath the river and will remove any oil remaining in
that portion of the line. The line was not flowing oil when the
Last year, much of Plains' 187,000-barrel-a-day Rainbow oil
pipeline in northern Alberta was shut down for four months after
a rupture spilled 28,000 barrels of crude near a native
community in late April. It was one of the largest spills in
Alberta in decades.
The company said this month it was putting the final touches
on reclamation efforts.