Enbridge shuts crude pipeline due to protest at valve site

The Enbridge Tower is pictured on Jasper Avenue in Edmonton in this August 4, 2012 file photo. REUTERS/Dan Riedlhuber/Files

CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) - Enbridge Inc shut down its 300,000 barrel per day Line 9 crude oil pipeline on Monday after three protesters locked themselves to equipment at a valve site in Quebec, a company spokesman said.

Enbridge spokesman Graham White said the protesters broke into a fenced site about 80 kilometres (50 miles) west of Montreal at around 8 a.m. ET by cutting the locks, then tampered with a pipeline valve and locked themselves to the equipment.

Enbridge shut the pipeline, which runs from Sarnia, Ontario, to Montreal, Quebec, as a precaution and the protesters were removed by police.

White said Enbridge expected to be able to restart the line later on Monday and the company did not anticipate any impact on deliveries to customers.

Canadian pipeline companies have faced fierce opposition to new projects from environmental groups and First Nations, many of whom would like to stop Canada’s vast oil reserves from being developed. Line 9 was recently reversed to carry Western Canadian crude to the east coast.

In a statement the protesters, who described themselves as a group of people concerned by Line 9, said a spill could contaminate drinking water, the pipeline had not received free, prior and informed consent from First Nations communities before being built, and it promoted the expansion of the oil sands.

“At a time when the climate conference is taking place in Paris, it is urgent to realize that such projects are incompatible with the fight against climate change,” said Alyssa Symons-Belanger, an activist supporter.

Reporting by Nia Williams; Editing by Tom Brown, Bernard Orr