(Adds context about pipeline spills, Dakota Access Pipeline,
By Liz Hampton
HOUSTON Dec 20 Crews have recovered about 1,805
barrels of oil from a creek in North Dakota following a Dec. 5
spill that leaked 4,200 barrels, making it the sixth-largest
pipeline leak this year, according to government data.
The cause of the spill is still not known, said Wendy Owen,
spokeswoman for True Companies, which owns the Belle Fourche
Pipeline. Of the total spill, about 3,100 barrels leaked into
the nearby Ash Coulee Creek, a small waterway that feeds the
Little Missouri River, a tributary of the Missouri River.
The spill has been contained. Last week, she noted that
pipeline equipment did not detect the spill, possibly because
the 2,400 barrel-per-day line runs intermittently.
The leak occurred just 150 miles from the site of protests
against the Dakota Access Pipeline, a crude line whose planned
route was under the Missouri River. The Little Missouri feeds
the main river upstream of the Dakota Pipeline crossing.
The spill happened as pipeline companies such as Energy
Transfer Partners, which saw the Dakota Access halted in
December by the U.S. government, are trying to convince critics
that their systems are the safest way to move crude and other
The incident underscores concerns of the Standing Rock Sioux
Tribe, whose land is adjacent to the planned pipeline route, and
others who have said that a leak from the Dakota Access could
contaminate drinking water or desecrate sacred lands.
So far, the total number of hazardous liquids pipeline
spills in 2016 is on track to fall short of 2015. As of Nov. 30,
there were 354 spills, versus 462 for all of in 2015, according
to data from the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety
However, the percentage of spills releasing larger volumes
of liquids has been higher this year, the data shows.
About 16 percent of pipeline releases in 2016 involved 100
or more barrels of product, versus about 13 percent last year.
The percentage involving 1,000 barrels or more has been slightly
higher as well for 2016, at 3.4 percent, versus 3 percent last
The two largest leaks this year have involved crude
pipelines. In September, Sunoco Logistics, the operator
of the Dakota Access, spilled 8,600 barrels of oil from its
Permian Express II pipeline near Sweetwater, Texas. The company
had previously been fined for violating welding practices on
In October, Enterprise Products Partners released
over 7,600 barrels of oil from its Seaway Crude pipeline near
Belle Fourche reported a 1,958 barrel leak of refined
products on its system in Campbell County, Wyoming in 2011, and
less than a month later suffered a 1,000 barrel spill of crude
oil on its line near McKenzie, North Dakota.
(Reporting by Liz Hampton; Editing by Alistair Bell)