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Enbridge shuts all pipelines in Alberta area as precaution after Line 37 spill; rains potential cause

Enbridge Pipelines (Athabasca) Inc., a subsidiary of Enbridge Inc., has temporarily shut down all its pipelines in the region of Cheecham, Alberta—including the major Athabasca and Waupisoo pipelines—due to concerns that the region’s heavy rains may have caused a synthetic crude spill from the Line 37 pipeline north of Cheecham.

Enbridge liquids pipelines. Click to enlarge.
  • The 540-kilometer (335-mile) Athabasca pipeline has been in in operation since March 1999 and has an annual capacity of up to 570,000 barrels per day of crude oil (depending on crude viscosity) from the Athabasca and Cold Lake regions of Alberta, south to Hardisty, Alberta.

  • The 380-kilometer (235-mile) Waupisoo pipeline system has been in operation since June 2008, and has an annual capacity of up to 600,000 bpd of crude oil (depending on crude viscosity) from Enbridge’s Cheecham Terminal to Edmonton.

Early in the morning of 22 June, Enbridge Pipelines shut down and isolated the Line 37 pipeline north of Cheecham after its leak detection system detected a potential release from the line.

Investigating field personnel discovered light synthetic oil on the ground approximately two kilometers north of the Cheecham Terminal, approximately 70 kilometers (43 miles) southeast of Ft McMurray. Initial estimates place the volume of the release at approximately 750 barrels.

Enbridge is still investigating the cause, but believes that the unusually heavy rains in the area may have resulted in ground movement on the right-of way that may have impacted the pipeline. This lead to the decision to shut down all the other pipelines as a precaution.

Enbridge first responders with equipment are on-site at the Line 37 spill and have installed booms which has contained product at the site and the local water bodies. There have been no reports of harm to wildlife at this point.

An Incident Command System has been initiated that will continue around the clock and responders and support resources have been dispatched from Fort McMurray, Lac La Biche, Edmonton, Hardisty, Alberta and Kerrobert, Saskatchewan.

Line 37 was constructed in 2006 and is a 12-inch diameter pipeline that is 17 kilometers (11 miles) long and connects facilities in the Long Lake area to Cheecham and is part of Enbridge’s Athabasca system.



Three+ pipelines have already been damaged in/around river crossing points. Total fuel/oil leaks are still a National Secrete and will probably remain so for a long time.

Improved design/installations are required to avoid future flood related pipeline damages and related oil leaks.

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