California spill ‘bigger than estimated’

06 August 2015, News Wires – A major oil spill in California caused by a ruptured pipeline may have been significantly bigger than currently estimated, the pipeline’s operator said on Wednesday.

spill cleanup

– Polaris/Scanpix

Plains All American Pipeline may have spilled 41% more crude than currently estimated, the company said in a presentation of quarterly earnings.

The company said it believes the May rupture could have released up to 3400 barrels of crude, about 1000 barrels more than current estimates, Reuters reported.

The line, which can move up to 48,000 barrels per day of offshore California crude to onshore refineries, has been shut for nearly three months after fouling Santa Barbara County shores as well as wildlife.

Plains expects the line to remain shut through the end of 2015 as regulators investigate the cause of the breach.

Plains said its initial worst-case estimate that the spill released up to 2400 barrels stemmed from calculating how much oil flowed in the pipeline from the time of the rupture to the time the line was shut down. Plains also estimated how much crude drained because of gravity at the rupture point.

The presentation released on Wednesday said an alternative calculation, reached after Plains in June finished removing about 26,500 barrels of oil left in the shut line, shows the worst-case spill estimate could be up to 3400 barrels, according to the news wire.

Plains said it has hired retained a third-party firm to review both estimates. A final spill estimate will be submitted once the study is finished.

The company’s second-quarter results included a $65 million contingency loss stemming from the spill and pipeline shutdown. The rest of the cost, $192 million, will be covered by insurance, the company said.

– Upstream

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