A leak in the Keystone pipeline last November shut down the Alberta to US pipeline.  Once repairs were complete, US pipeline safety regulators imposed pressure restrictions on the pipeline and reduced shipments of crude were allowed to continue.  On Tuesday, the restrictions were lifted.  DroneBase photo via Associated Press.  

590,000 b/d Keystone pipeline shut down in Nov. 2017 after South Dakota leak

One month after TransCanada Corp. requested pressure restrictions be lifted on the Keystone pipeline, the US federal agency in charge of ensuring pipeline safety says the company can resume normal operations.

The US Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) lifted pressure restrictions on TransCanada’s Keystone pipeline on Tuesday, according to a letter from the agency.

The Calgary-based company has been operating the pipeline at reduced pressure after a spill in South Dakota in November of last year.

Darius Kirkwood, spokesman for the PHMSA, told Reuters that he is unsure what the current flow rates are on the Alberta to US pipeline.

Last November, TransCanada shut down the 590,000 barrel per day (b/d) pipeline after a spill was detected in rural South Dakota.  After the company repaired the line, PHMSA allowed TransCanada to reopen the line, but at reduced pressure.

These restrictions have helped cut down on crude stocks at the Cushing, Oklahoma, storage hub.

The reopening of the line will offer some help to Canadian producers struggling with transportation bottlenecks that are hampering their ability to get crude to market.

Paul Miller, TransCanada’s head of liquids said in a conference call last week that the US restrictions “really did have a minor impact on our throughput and so consequently, I don’t anticipate seeing a tremendous increase in our throughput once it’s lifted, based on some of the changes we’ve made already.”

Matthew John, spokesman for TransCanada agrees.  He told Reuters on Thursday “We don’t expect to see significant additional volumes on Keystone”.

According to the letter from the PHMSA, the pressure restrictions were in place from the Luverne pump station to Ludden pump station and on the section of the line where the leak occurred, between Ludden to Ferney pump stations.