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By Robert Rapier on Nov 29, 2007 with no responses

Two Dead in Pipeline Explosion

This is one case in which I was a bit slow to process the information. I heard about this pipeline explosion not too long after it happened, but the seriousness was not immediately apparent to me:

Explosion At A US-Canadian Pipeline Sends Oil Prices To $95.17 A Barrel

It’s amazing to me how all the stories seem to treat the two deaths as an afterthought:

New York, NY (AHN) – Oil prices soared up on Thursday by $4 following an explosion at a pipeline interrupting the supply of the crude oil to the U.S. Midwest from Canada.

The fire that broke out late Wednesday cut Canadian oil supplies through the pipelines. Canada provides the U.S. with at least 15 percent of imported crude.

Oh yeah, and two people died. Let’s briefly mention that, and get back to the supply issue:

The explosion killed two workers fixing the Enbridge Energy Inc. pipeline in northern Minnesota. “It is a major incident with major supply issues in an important area,” Paul Horsnell, head of commodities research at Barclays Capital in London, told Bloomberg. “It will put pressure on prompt demand in the Midwest.”

Due to the incident, four pipelines supplying 1.5 million barrels a day were closed till further notice, although the fire was extinguished.

Maybe I am hypersensitive about that point, but it annoys me how we just so casually mention the deaths.

The government is offering to tap the SPR:

U.S. says oil reserve ready to offset pipeline blast

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Energy Department said on Thursday it was prepared to make oil supplies from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve available to refineries to help offset the disruption in Canadian oil imports caused by an explosion at the Enbridge pipeline.

“Crude oil from the nation’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve is available to alleviate a severe supply disruption and remains available if necessary,” a department spokeswoman told Reuters. She said the department is “reaching out” to Midwest refineries to assess their supply situation and see if they need oil from the emergency stockpile.

She pointed out that the explosion occurred at one of the four Enbridge pipelines that was undergoing maintenance, and a second pipeline has shut as precautionary measure.

However, the other two pipelines are currently moving more than 650,000 barrels of Canadian crude oil a day to the U.S. market, down from the four pipelines’ normal combined rate of 1.1 million barrels a day, the spokeswoman said.

Did I mention that two people died?