Friday, June 9 2023 Sign In   |    Register

News Quick Search



Front Page
Power News
Gas News
Today's News
Yesterday's News
Week of Jun 05
Week of May 29
Week of May 22
Week of May 15
Week of May 08
By Topic
By News Partner
News Customization


Pro Plus(+)

Add on products to your professional subscription.
  • Energy Archive News

    Home > News > Gas News > News Article

    Share by Email E-mail Printer Friendly Print

    Keystone oil pipeline operator faces tighter regulations around site of Kansas spill

    March 10, 2023 - Natalie Wallington, The Kansas City Star


      A large segment of the Keystone Pipeline, including the site of December’s massive oil spill in rural northern Kansas, will face increased regulations following an order from the U.S. Department of Transportation.

      Regulators have ordered Keystone Pipeline operator TC Energy to reduce pressure and conduct safety testing on an over-1,000 mile long segment of the pipeline stretching from the Canadian border down to Oklahoma.

      The segment includes the site of a failure three months ago near Washington, Kansas, which spilled more oil than all of the pipeline’s previous ruptures combined.

      Continuing to operate the segment “is or would be hazardous to life, property, or the environment” unless changes are made, Tuesday’s order states.

      Regulators with the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) laid out ten requirements for TC Energy to follow under threat of “civil penalties” or legal action. The requirements include:

      Reducing the pipeline’s operating pressure temporarily

      Mechanical testing of the failed pipeline section and of welds similar to the one that failed in December’s spill

      Analyze whether land movement played a role in December’s rupture

      Present a plan on how the company will update its safety protocols to prevent future spills

      “I would suggest that PHMSA has Keystone’s attention,” said Richard Kuprewicz, an independent pipeline advisor who has testified before Congress on pipeline safety and has over 20 years of experience advising on pipeline operation and regulation.

      He added that the order’s restrictions may help prevent future ruptures.

      “The independent forensic report would likely indicate a possible systemic issue that needs to be addressed,” he said.

      You can view the full text of the order below. If you can’t see the embed, click here to view the document.

      Department of Transportation order on Kansas pipeline spill by The Kansas City Star on Scribd

      What caused December’s Keystone Pipeline spill?

      TC Energy released a report in February, just over two months after the initial spill, ascribing the rupture to “bending stress on the pipe” and “a weld flaw.”

      The Department of Transportation’s order Tuesday offered more insight into the potential causes of these issues. Specifically, the order seemed to single out land movement as a potential cause of bending stress on the pipe.

      “Onsite personnel observed the failed segment move vertically as overburden was removed, indicating the pipeline was under improper loading and stress,” the order read. “It is not clear whether the pipe segment has been under stress since construction or if land movement in the area may have more recently induced or increased stress.”

      While regulators note that TC Energy was monitoring the area for “geohazards and land movement” prior to the failure, they ordered the company to get its monitoring program reviewed by a third-party evaluator in the next 60 days.

      “The evaluation must determine if land movement may have contributed to the loading and stresses on the pipeline at the failure location,” regulators added.

      “Land movement” can be caused by extreme weather, erosion, geological shifts due to climate change or earthquakes. It is one of many factors that can put stress on oil pipelines, especially those located on slopes, according to PHMSA.

      The agency released updated guidance last June advising pipeline operators to take special precautions against the impacts of land movement. It listed recommendations, but did not require new safety measures of pipeline operators.

      What does the federal order mean for future Keystone spills?

      Regulators noted that the Keystone Pipeline has been spilling more oil more often in recent years, a trend it hopes new regulations will reverse.

      “The spills… show a tendency or pattern in recent years of increasingly frequent incidents resulting in larger releases,” the order states.

      An EPA spokesperson declined to comment on the recent order.

      The pipeline segment covered by the order, which extends from the U.S.-Canada border in the north to Cushing, Oklahoma in the south, must remain at a lower operating pressure until TC Energy meets its other requirements.

      The company has around 90 days to meet most of the requirements in the order, although it can request time extensions if it has a “good cause,” the order says.

      Do you have more questions about environmental issues in Kansas or Missouri? Ask the Service Journalism team at

      ©2023 The Kansas City Star. Visit Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.


    Other Articles - Environmental


       Home  -  Feedback  -  Contact Us  -  Safe Sender  -  About Energy Central   
    Copyright © 1996-2023 by CyberTech, Inc. All rights reserved.
    Energy Central® and Energy Central Professional® are registered trademarks of CyberTech, Incorporated. Data and information is provided for informational purposes only, and is not intended for trading purposes. CyberTech does not warrant that the information or services of Energy Central will meet any specific requirements; nor will it be error free or uninterrupted; nor shall CyberTech be liable for any indirect, incidental or consequential damages (including lost data, information or profits) sustained or incurred in connection with the use of, operation of, or inability to use Energy Central. Other terms of use may apply. Membership information is confidential and subject to our privacy agreement.