Pipeline fire occurred on replaced section

By OGJ editors
HOUSTON, Nov. 29 -- A pipeline fire that killed two workers in northern Minnesota Nov. 28 occurred at a section that had been replaced because of a pinhole leak detected 3 weeks earlier.

Executives of pipeline owner Enbridge Energy Partners LP said the company initially installed a temporary repair sleeve but decided to cut out and replace an 11-ft section of 34-in. pipe. The line was undergoing maintenance at the time of the accident.

Cause of the fire, 3 miles southeast of Enbridge's Clearbrook, Minn., terminal, remains under investigation.

The damaged pipeline was one of four parallel lines on Enbridge's Lakehead System, which delivers crude oil from western Canada to numerous locations in the US.

By the afternoon of Nov. 29, Enbridge had restarted three of the four pipelines and restored system throughput to about 80% of total capacity of 1.8 million b/d.

The company expected to restart the line on which repairs had been made in 2-3 days. It can carry as much as 420,000 b/d of heavy crude.

Enbridge executives said they were meeting system commitments with increased throughput on the three operating pipelines and withdrawal from storage.

They said leakage from the pipeline involved in the incident was minor.

The Enbridge employees killed were pipeline maintenance workers from the Superior, Wis., area.

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