Canadian Oil Prices Set To Rise As Keystone Restarts

TC Energy has said it would partially restart the Keystone oil pipeline next week, after it shut it down following a spill of some 9,000 barrels of crude in North Dakota.

Reuters reports, citing unnamed sources familiar with the situation, that the 590,000-bpd pipeline would partially resume operation between Sunday and Tuesday.

Earlier this week, an order from the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, which said in a statement that if the pipe continued functioning before repairs were done and TC Energy submitted a restart and return-to-service plan, it would present a danger to the environment and local communities.

TC Energy has plugged the section of the pipeline that leaked and has sent a crew to find the exact location of the spill, which occurred in late October. The company did not say when full operation will be restored.

The incident will certainly add to arguments against new pipelines in both the United States and Canada, especially since it is not an isolated occurrence. Earlier this year, TC Energy had to shut the pipeline down again to investigate a suspected leak, this time in Missouri.

The Keystone pipeline is one of few outlets for Canadian crude oil to the U.S. refining market. Any shutdown of this artery for a struggling industry is yet another reminder of how difficult the situation of Canadian oil producers has become. With so few pipelines to transport their output, every shutdown sends shock waves through the industry.

This latest spill was no exception: prices sunk on the news and continue to be depressed as the pipeline remains offline, which, according to energy consultancy JBC Energy, could last up to two months. Meanwhile, opposition against TC Energy’s other pipeline project, Keystone XL, has strengthened thanks to the spill. Its future looks more uncertain than a month ago.

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com