By Kristen Hays
HOUSTON, March 8 (Reuters) - Shell Pipeline, a subsidiary of Royal Dutch Shell Plc, said on Friday its Houma-to-Houston (Ho-Ho) pipeline is back up and running. The company had shut a part of the line earlier, following a small crude oil leak.
Shell estimates that a single barrel of oil had leaked, as the crew saw a pool about 10 feet (3 meters) in diameter in the soil, according to the company’s report to the U.S. National Response Center.
“At approximately 9:30 a.m. on Thursday, March 7, Shell Pipeline isolated a segment of the Houma-to-Houston (Ho-Ho) pipeline after air patrol noticed an indication of crude oil leakage near Iowa, Louisiana,” company spokeswoman Kayla Macke said in an email.
Tim Beckstrom, spokesman for the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality, corroborated that Shell had isolated the leak and that an oil response crew was en route for cleanup.
“This is being handled as a non-emergency spill” and the cause is under investigation, he said.
There were no injuries reported and the company has activated its emergency response plan, Macke added.
Shell is reversing the pipeline’s flow to carry Texas crude to Louisiana from Houston. A Texas portion of the 300,000 barrel-per-day (bpd) line was shut last November in anticipation of the reversal, which is part of an ongoing realignment of infrastructure to move booming inland U.S. oil output to markets.
The Ho-Ho line, which has carried Gulf of Mexico crude to Texas from Louisiana, will move light-sweet crude from Texas shale and tight oil plays to Louisiana.
Last week Shell launched a supplemental open season to solicit bids from shippers for another 75,000 bpd of capacity. That season will end March 27.
Shell also is planning another pipeline, Westward Ho, to initially carry up to 300,000 bpd of crude from St. James, Louisiana, to refiners just across the Texas state line. If approved, that pipeline is slated to start up in 2015.