Friday, May 27, 2011

Rainbow Pipeline segment shut in by wildfires restarts in northern Alberta

CALGARY, Alta. - Oil and gas activities in northern Alberta began returning to normal as the number of forest fires in the region abated and the Plains All America Rainbow Pipeline resumed partial operations.

Power to Alberta's Slave Lake region, decimated by wildfires fanned by strong winds, has been restored, allowing pumping stations and pipelines to resume operations.

Operator Plains Midstream Canada, a subsidiary of Plains All American Pipeline, restarted the southern portion of its Rainbow Pipeline on the afternoon of May 25, a day later than expected, after being shut down since May 15.

"The line has been closed for the past 10 days as a precautionary measure due to the threat from forest fires in the area," said vice president Stephen Bart.

The Nipisi-to-Edmonton segment of the pipeline was flowing at about 136,000 b/d, an average rate for current supply and demand conditions, said Bart. More than 150,000 b/d of heavy oil production in north central Alberta were shut down because of fires and power interruptions.

The northern portion of the Rainbow Pipeline, running from Zama to Nipisi, remained closed after a late April rupture that spilled 28,000 barrel of oil in the muskeg. Cleanup operations restarted on May 25 after workers were evacuated five days before due to fires in the area. The pipeline remains closed pending restart approval from provincial regulators.

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