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Canadian pipeline company Enbridge Inc. (ENB) said the final test before the restart of an oil pipeline that ruptured in Michigan last month will likely be completed Monday.
However, the actual restart date of Line 6B in Enbridge's Lakehead System will be set by the company's U.S. regulator, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Board, which will review safety tests of the pipeline before it approves a restart.
The July 26 rupture and shut down of Line 6B has caused some supply problems. Enbridge has had to apportion capacity on some of its other pipelines, which are seeing increased demand from oil shippers looking to get around the shut-down line. Pipeline companies use apportionment to try to fairly distribute capacity to shippers when there's more demand than pipeline space.
Line 6B runs from northwest Indiana to Sarnia, Ontario, and transported 190,000 barrels a day before the rupture spilled about 19,500 barrels into the Kalamazoo River near Battle Creek, Mich.
Enbridge Chief Executive Pat Daniel has said supplies of asphalt, used in road construction and repair, in the areas the line serves may be particularly hit by the shut down. The line transported a heavy oil blend called Western Canadian Select--the heavier parts of which are used to make asphalt.
The final hydrostatic test on Monday, in which high-pressure water is pumped through the pipeline in order to check for leaks, was delayed by a few days, said Stephen Wuori, Enbridge's executive vice president of liquids pipelines. Wuori said during a conference call Wednesday the delay was caused because the process of unearthing a section of the pipeline for integrity testing was taking longer than expected.
Meanwhile, Mark Durno, the Environmental Protection Agency official in charge of the Michigan oil-spill response, said much of the obvious effects of the spill have been removed from the river.
"It's what we can't see that we're concerned about now," Durno said. He said vegetation on the riverbank was still heavily contaminated by oil from the spill, and that the agency is planning tests to determine whether submerged remnants of the oil were having an effect on the riverbed.
The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the cause of the spill, and likely won't finish its investigation for at least another year.
Enbridge shares closed up 31 cents at $49.65 on the New York Stock Exchange Wednesday.
-By Edward Welsch, Dow Jones Newswires; 403-229-9095; firstname.lastname@example.org