TC Energy Delays Full Keystone Pipeline Restart to Year-End

An excavator moves materials at pipeline construction
An excavator moves materials at pipeline construction works in Wilhelmshaven, Germany. (Krisztian Bocsi/Bloomberg News)

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TC Energy Corp. pushed back the full return of its Keystone oil pipeline by a week after a 14,000-barrel oil spill shut the critical conduit, according to people familiar with the matter.

The company had expected to begin a complete return on Dec. 20, but is now targeting Dec. 28 or 29, said the people, who asked not to be named discussing confidential matters. Although the people didn’t specify the reasons for the delay, TC Energy previously said that cold weather could hamper cleanup of the spill. The company has already submitted a restart plan with the federal government, which must give approval before operations can resume.

TC Energy said in an email that it doesn’t have an estimate for the full return of the system.

The shutdown of the pipeline that carries heavy crude from Western Canada to the U.S. Midwest has roiled oil markets, limiting supplies to the storage hub at Cushing, Okla., which is the delivery point for the U.S. benchmark. An official for Washington County, Kan., where the leak occurred, said TC Energy had removed the failed pipe.

One leg of the conduit — running from Hardisty, Alberta, to Patoka, Ill. — restarted operations at reduced flows last week, while the ruptured segment — extending from Steele City to Cushing — remains shut. TC Energy’s Marketlink pipeline connecting Cushing to the U.S. Gulf Coast is also running at reduced rates.

Keystone has spilled more oil than any other U.S. pipeline since 2010, when the system began operation, according to preliminary data from the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. On the night of the latest rupture, flows on the pipeline reached nearly 650,000 barrels a day as the company raised rates to test the system’s operational efficiency.

With assistance from Robert Tuttle.

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