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Large Oklahoma Oil Pipeline Shut Down

A large oil pipeline in Oklahoma is operating at half capacity after its operators discovered a leak on Oct. 23.

The Seaway Crude pipeline system moves 850,000 barrels of oil per day from Cushing, Oklahoma, to refineries on the Gulf Coast through two pipelines -- one the company calls its "legacy pipeline," and another called the Seaway Twin.

A puncture in the legacy line forced Seaway to close both pipelines on Oct. 23, with the twin line closed as a precaution as the company's engineers assess the problem, Reuters reports.

By Oct. 24, the twin pipeline was restored to service, and now Seaway is operating at a bit more than half capacity, delivering about 450,000 barrels of oil a day while the company deals with the damage to the first line.

Seaway didn't say how much oil was spilled by the legacy pipeline leak, and said it wouldn't have an estimate until repairs were complete. But the company said "most" of the oil was contained in a retention pond, and said there was no immediate threat to the public.

"As far as the line that had the release on it, we are still early in the process," Seaway spokesperson Rick Rainey told KOKH. "Our main concern right now is making sure that we continue to clean up and it's safe for our people to go in and and take a look at the pipeline."

The company had seven vacuum trucks on the site of the retention pond as of Oct. 24, and those trucks were siphoning the spilled oil from the reservoir to a tank at the same site, Rainey said.

Government investigators are expected to get involved, and a spokesman for the U.S. Department of Transportation Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration said it had already dispatched staff to help contain the leak.

The leak comes at a time of increased tension among oil companies, the government and environmentalists who oppose oil pipelines over concerns they're unsafe for people and the land they run through. Earlier in October, protesters successfully stopped construction efforts of a $3.7 billion oil pipeline meant to deliver oil to the Gulf region from oil fields in North Dakota.

Sources: Reuters via Yahoo Finance, KOKH / Photo credit: Malcolm Manners/Wikimedia Commons

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