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April 3 (Reuters) - The Seaway crude oil pipeline is operating normally, a spokesman for the line's operator said on Wednesday, after rumors circulated in energy markets that the key line had shut down.
Enterprise Product Partners spokesman Rick Rainey said in an email that the company did not comment on market rumors but added, "I can tell you that the Seaway pipeline is operating normally."
The pipeline, closely watched by oil traders, carries crude oil from Cushing, Oklahoma, delivery point of the U.S. crude oil futures contract, to refineries on the Gulf Coast.
Rumors circulated in oil markets in New York Wednesday morning about a problem with the line, as U.S. crude oil prices fell sharply.
At around 1:20 p.m. EST (1720 GMT), infrared pipeline monitor Genscape reported that it had observed decreased power consumption at all pumping stations along the line's route at about 9:00 a.m. EST. The monitor later said it saw resumed flows on the line at about 11:15 a.m.
Rainey said Enterprise does not give "minute to minute" operational updates on the company's assets.
The 500-mile line, jointly owned by Enterprise and Enbridge Energy Partners, was expanded earlier this year to carry as much as 400,000 barrels of oil per day from Oklahoma to Texas, a move expected to help clear surplus crude from the Midwest and boost U.S. crude prices relative to seaborne rivals like North Sea Brent.
In February, however, a filing from Enterprise with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) said the line would run significantly below capacity, as the transportation of heavier crudes slow down the line.
At 2:17 p.m EST, U.S. crude oil futures for May delivery were down $2.71 at $94.48 a barrel. Brent crude oil for May delivery was down $3.32 at $107.36 a barrel.
The spread between the two contracts was $12.90, narrowing from $13.50 on Tuesday.