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Keystone pressure reductions lifted

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World Pipelines,

Reuters is reporting that pressure restrictions on TransCanada Corp’s Keystone oil pipeline were lifted on Tuesday in a letter issued by US pipeline safety regulators.

It was not immediately clear what current flowrates are, said Darius Kirkwood, a spokesman for the US Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA).

In November, the company shut down its 590 000 bpd Keystone pipeline, which links Alberta’s oilsands to US refineries, after a spill in South Dakota and was ordered later that month to operate at reduced pressure.

Reduced flows on the pipeline had helped draw down inventories in the Cushing, Oklahoma, storage hub. A return to full capacity on the line is also expected to help relieve a bottleneck in the oil-producing province of Alberta, where increased output has run up against a shortage of pipeline and rail capacity.

The restrictions “really did have a minor impact on our throughput and so consequently, I don’t anticipate seeing a tremendous increase in our throughput once it’s lifted, based on some of the changes we’ve made already,” TransCanada’s head of liquids, Paul Miller, said on a conference call last week.

A spokesman for Calgary-based TransCanada said the restrictions in place were limited to a small section of the pipeline and had been lifted.

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