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Keystone pipeline could restart next week after leak

An oil leak last week in South Dakota could be the first since the Keystone pipeline began operating in 2010, officials say.

TransCanada's reputation takes a hit after first oil pipeline problem

Workers are making progress exposing the pipeline to investigate what happened. (Video submitted by TransCanada Corp.) 0:21

TransCanada's Keystone pipeline could resume pumping oil from Alberta to refineries in Illinois and Oklahoma early next week, following a leak in South Dakota.

Crews are still searching for the source of the spill by digging in the ground to expose the pipe. 

Oil was found Saturday on a 27.9-square-metre area in a ditch near Freeman, S.D. 

In an update on Thursday afternoon, TransCanada estimated the potential size of the spill could be 400 barrels, based on initial modelling. Crews need to pinpoint the pipeline problem and fix it before the line returns to operation.

"We're looking, at the earliest, early next week as being a startup time, but that evolves as we continue our investigation," said spokesman Mark Cooper in an interview. "We'd like to begin operating as quickly as possible. It is an important cog in getting the energy we use everyday to North Americans."

Company's safety record

TransCanada has taken much pride in its safety record with Keystone. Since it began operations in 2010, the only incidents have occurred at pumping stations, not from the pipeline itself. On June 26, 2015, TransCanada had transported one billion barrels of oil without any cracks or leaks on the pipe. 

"Our goal is always zero incidence, but unfortunately from time to time these things do happen," said Cooper. "We're disappointed this has happened but we are confident in what our response has been so far."

The response included immediately shutting down the pipeline and quickly notifying landowners, regulators and governments. 
The Keystone pipeline has had spills before, however they occurred at TransCanada facilities such as pumping stations. (TransCanada's 2014 Community Social Responsibility Report )

TransCanada is behind the Energy East project, a proposed 4,600-kilometre pipeline to transport up to 1.1 million barrels of crude oil per day from Alberta to New Brunswick.

The pipeline would be built by converting an existing natural gas pipeline, as well as constructing new sections of pipeline to complete the route. The project is estimated to cost $15.7 billion.

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