WASHINGTON – Exxon Mobil said that one of its pipelines leaked “a few thousand” barrels of Canadian heavy crude oil near Mayflower, Arkansas, late Friday, prompting the evacuation of 22 homes and reinforcing concerns many critics have raised about the Keystone XL pipeline that is awaiting State Department approval.
Exxon said the pipeline breach took place in the 50-cm-diameter, 95,000-barrel-a-day Pegasus pipeline, which originates in Patoka, Illinois, and carries oil to the Texas Gulf Coast.
By Sunday afternoon, the company had deployed 15 vacuum trucks and 33 storage tanks to start cleaning up and temporarily store about 12,000 barrels of oil and water that had been recovered, the company said.
Crews were steam-cleaning oil from property, Exxon Mobil said, while some fought in rainy weather to keep the oil from reaching nearby Lake Conway through storm drains.
The pipeline, which was built in the 1940s and was recently expanded, was carrying low-quality Wabasca Heavy crude oil from Alberta, Exxon Mobil spokesman Alan Jeffers said. According to the Crude Monitor website, Wabasca Heavy is a blend of oil produced in the Athabasca region, where the oil sands are located.
An existing Keystone pipeline carries crude oil that comes from the oil sands deposits in Alberta to Patoka though Exxon Mobil’s. Jeffers said he did not know if this batch of crude oil came from the Keystone line.