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Vehicle crash and blast shuts main Canada-to-US oil pipeline

06 March 2012

Enbridge Inc shut down a key part of the main Canada-to-United States oil pipeline for several days after a deadly vehicle accident on March 3 caused a fire at an Illinois pumping station. The pipeline carries around 3% of total US oil imports, and operations are not expected to resume fully until March 8.

The incident killed 2, injured 3 and cut a pipeline carrying around 3% of total US imports
The incident killed 2, injured 3 and cut a pipeline carrying around 3% of total US imports

The Canadian company said it was forced to shut down the 318,000 barrel-a-day Line 14/64 system between Superior, Wisconsin, and Griffith, Indiana, after the early-morning collision, which caused a blaze and spill of crude near New Lenox, Illinois. 

Enbridge also slowed the flow of oil in two pipelines in Canada, Lines 2B and 3, which feed a total of 800,000 bpd supply into the system at Superior. The company's total network carries some 2 million bpd of crude.

The Calgary-based company said on March 5 that it expects the shutdown of Line 14 to last until late March 7, with full service on Line 64 restored on March 8.

According to reports, a Ford Mustang and a SUV were apparently riding side by side at speed when they drove through a chain-link fence at the end of a dead-end road, where they travelled for about 125 feet, before slamming into the oil pipeline. The resulting explosion and fire spread to a pumping station and took two hours to extinguish.

It was the second time in less than three weeks that Enbridge has had to shut down part of its system in the Upper Midwest because of a leak. On February 16, it turned off its 491,000 bpd Line 5 for about a day, after discovering a small amount of spilled oil in Michigan's Lower Peninsula.

The Line 14/64 pipeline system, which supplies the largest refineries in the United States Midwest, carries condensates as well as light, medium and heavy oil.

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