Refiners feel pinch from Enbridge line shutdown

NEW YORK/CALGARY (Reuters) - A second oil refiner has reduced operating rates as some U.S. and Canadian refineries processing more than 700,000 barrels per day of crude oil felt a supply pinch on Wednesday due to Enbridge Inc’s ruptured crude pipeline.

United Refining said it has cut rates at its 70,000 bpd refinery in Warren, Pennsylvania due to Enbridge’s crude oil pipeline rupture early last week.

A company spokesman did not elaborate as to how much rates were cut or if the refinery had an alternate crude supply.

Impact on refineries and crude markets has been minimal since Enbridge Line 6B, which runs from Indiana to Sarnia, Ontario, suffered a break early last week and spilled more than 19,500 barrels (819,000 gallons) of Canadian crude into Talmadge Creek, which flows into the Kalamazoo River just east of Battle Creek, Michigan.

It was one of the largest pipeline leaks in recent U.S. history, and scrutiny into the leak may delay the restart of the 190,000 barrel a day pipeline that serves refineries in the northeastern part of the U.S. Midwest and southern Canada.

As of Tuesday, Enbridge still had no timeline for restarting the line.

But refiners said they were finding alternative sources of crude oil, and the supply disruption of 190,000 bpd of crude oil was small compared the U.S. Midwest region’s ability to process around 4 million bpd of oil.

In Canada, Suncor Energy Inc said there was no large impact on its 80,000 bpd refinery in Sarnia, Ontario, which is also served by Line 6B.

“We’ve been able to manage the impact through access to alternate crude supplies and we will continue to do that,” Suncor spokesman Dany Laferriere said.

Other pipelines into the Sarnia refining region include Enbridge’s 490,000 bpd Line 5 from Superior, Wisconsin, and 240,000 bpd Line 9 from Montreal. Enbridge executives said on Tuesday that both conduits had increased shipments since the rupture last week.

Other refineries served by the line reported varying degrees of impact. Rates at the 127,500 barrel per day Toledo, Ohio, refinery owned by BP Plc and Husky Energy Inc were seen slightly lower on Tuesday.

Imperial Oil Ltd, the Canadian affiliate of Exxon Mobil Corp, said on Tuesday the impact its 121,000 bpd Sarnia and 112,000 bpd Nanticoke, Ontario, refineries was minimal to date.

However, the company was monitoring the situation closely and working to secure alternative supplies of crude, spokesman Jon Harding said.

Shell’s 75,000 bpd refinery in Sarnia reported some “minor” issues with no effect on output, the company said.

Operations at Marathon Oil’S 106,000 bpd plant in Detroit was not affected, but spokesman Robert Calmus said on Tuesday that Marathon cannot project what would happen in the case of an extended outage although the Enbridge line was not the only crude supply to the refinery.

Sunoco Inc was not available to comment on its 160,000 bpd Toledo, Ohio plant, which could also face some impact from an extended line shutdown.

Reporting by Janet McGurty; Additional reporting by Scott Haggett and Jeffrey Jones in Calgary; Editing by Marguerita Choy