Keystone pipeline could restart next week after leak

TransCanada's Keystone pipeline could resume pumping oil from Alberta to refineries in Illinois and Oklahoma early next week, following a leak in South Dakota.

Crews are still searching for the source of the spill by digging in the ground to expose the pipe. 

Oil was found Saturday on a 27.9-square-metre area in a ditch near Freeman, S.D. 

At this point, the company will not provide an estimate about how much oil was discovered, however TransCanada said it was only a "very, very small amount" and there was not any significant pooling. Crews need to pinpoint the pipeline problem and fix it before the line returns to operation.

"We're looking, at the earliest, early next week as being a startup time, but that evolves as we continue our investigation," said spokesman Mark Cooper in an interview. "We'd like to begin operating as quickly as possible. It is an important cog in getting the energy we use everyday to North Americans."

Company's safety record

TransCanada has taken much pride in its safety record with Keystone. Since it began operations in 2010, the only incidents have occurred at pumping stations, not from the pipeline itself. On June 26, 2015, TransCanada had transported one billion barrels of oil without any cracks or leaks on the pipe. 

"Our goal is always zero incidence, but unfortunately from time to time these things do happen," said Cooper. "We're disappointed this has happened but we are confident in what our response has been so far."

The response included immediately shutting down the pipeline and quickly notifying landowners, regulators and governments. 

TransCanada Keystone spills 2011-14

The Keystone pipeline has had spills before, however they occurred at TransCanada facilities such as pumping stations. (TransCanada's 2014 Community Social Responsibility Report )

TransCanada is behind the Energy East project, a proposed 4,600-kilometre pipeline to transport up to 1.1 million barrels of crude oil per day from Alberta to New Brunswick.

The pipeline would be built by converting an existing natural gas pipeline, as well as constructing new sections of pipeline to complete the route. The project is estimated to cost $15.7 billion.

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