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Enbridge grapples with pipeline shutdown, weekend spill in northern Alberta

CALGARY – Enbridge Inc. (TSX:ENB) is coping with a weekend spill of synthetic crude in northern Alberta as its head office remains closed due to severe flooding in the southern part of the province.

The spill from Line 37, about 70 kilometres southeast of Fort McMurray, Alta., caused Enbridge to shut down its Athabasca and Waupisoo pipelines — a major part of the network that serves Alberta’s oilsands.

The 540-kilometre Athabasca line can carry up to 570,000 barrels per day of crude from the Athabasca and Cold Lake regions to Hardisty, Alta., a major pipeline hub in eastern Alberta, about 200 kilometres southeast of Edmonton.

The Waupisoo line can carry up to 600,000 barrels per day to Edmonton from Cheecham Terminal, near the site of the spill.

The company detected the Line 37 spill early Saturday and initially estimated that between 500 and 750 barrels of oil had spilled.

Enbridge said unusually heavy rains may have resulted in a ground movement that affected Line 37, a 17-kilometre-long, 12-inch diameter pipe linking the Long Lake oilsands upgrader with the Athabasca system.

Clean-up crews remain on site, and that the oil has been contained, the company said.

No wildlife has been affected by the spill, said Enbridge spokesman Todd Nogier.

“We’re committed to thoroughly cleaning up the site as quickly as possible and ensuring the safety of the residents, environment, wildlife, contractors, and employees,” said Nogier in an email.

The release of crude comes as Alberta grapples with major flooding, including in the city of Calgary where Enbridge has its head office, which has been closed until it’s safe for employees to return.

Enbridge also said that control, monitoring and operation of its liquids pipelines network is based in Edmonton and not been affected by the flooding in southern Alberta.

The Alberta Energy Regulator said late Sunday that it was working on the problem but hadn’t confirmed the company’s estimate that between 500 and 750 barrels of oil had spilled.

The AES said Enbridge had installed wildlife deterrents and contracted environmental consultants to conduct water sampling and a wildlife survey.

It said there had been no impact on wildlife observed as of Sunday.

Enbridge’s stock was down 87 cents or two per cent on Monday to close at $42.64.