(Adds PHMSA statement)
By Devika Krishna Kumar
NEW YORK, Sept 14 Colonial Pipeline Co, the
largest refined products system in the United States, on
Wednesday increased its estimate of a gasoline leak in Alabama
by about six times, but maintained it would restart the affected
line completely by the weekend.
The pipeline said about 6,000 barrels of gasoline spilled in
Shelby County, Alabama, up from an earlier estimate on Tuesday
of about 1,000 barrels.
The company shut down its main gasoline and distillates
lines on Friday after discovering the leak. It has since
restarted Line 2, its distillate line, and said it expected to
restart Line 1, its gasoline line, completely by this weekend.
Some traders said it might take longer than estimated for
Colonial to restart Line 1 entirely, since the cause of the leak
had not yet been determined.
Colonial spokesman Steve Baker said in an email that the
company knew the exact location of the leak but the cause would
take longer to determine.
"The pipe will be examined ... The weekend restart
projection is unchanged," Baker said.
Colonial said it can currently operate Line 1 from Gulf
Coast refineries, which helps them clear some of their product
from storage. As a contingency plan, Colonial has said it would
pump some gasoline on Line 2.
"We will be able to operate Line 1 from Atlanta onward once
gasoline deliveries on Line 2 reach that point of our system,"
The gasoline released is contained in one of three nearby
mine water retention ponds and there has been no threat to
public health or safety, Colonial said on Wednesday.
About 500 employees and contractors are working on the
response and the company is preparing for excavation and repair.
The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration
(PHMSA) said it had deployed investigators to Shelby.
Its pipeline safety experts are investigating the cause of
the leak, a PHMSA spokesman said in an email.
The pipeline connects Gulf Coast refineries with markets
across the southern and eastern United States through more than
5,500 miles of its pipeline system, delivering gasoline, diesel,
jet fuel and other refined products.
Colonial's Line 1, with a capacity of 1.2 million barrels
per day, runs to Greensboro, North Carolina from Houston.
The outage has weakened cash prices in the U.S. Gulf Coast
over the last two days. Some traders said taking out supply to
the East Coast could start to alleviate the glut of domestic
gasoline in that region.
(Reporting by Devika Krishna Kumar in New York; Editing by
Chris Reese and Andrew Hay)