ConocoPhillips shuts down 5-mile section of underground diesel fuel, unleaded gasoline pipeline that crosses northern Idaho because of drop in pressure; workers find no problems, leaks

BOISE, Idaho , October 10, 2011 () – ConocoPhillips shuts down N. Idaho fuel pipeline after pressure drop

ConocoPhillips has shut down an underground diesel fuel and unleaded gas pipeline that crosses northern Idaho because of a pressure drop.

Workers on Sunday hadn't yet determined the reason for the pressure drop in the Yellowstone Pipeline, said company spokesman Jeff Callender. Callender said a special instrument sent through a five-mile section of the 10-inch diameter pipe on Saturday between the Idaho towns of Enaville and Cataldo found no leaks.

"We've analyzed the results and so far we don't see any indication of a problem or a potential leak on that line," he said.

He also said fuel hasn't been detected outside the pipe, but as a precaution, floating booms have been placed across the Coeur d'Alene River in two places and absorbent material along the bank in a third location.

"We're trying to err on the side of caution and put everything in place in the event there is any problem with the pipeline," he said.

He said workers immediately shut down the pipe when the pressure drop occurred Oct. 1, and that valves at each end of the 5-mile section have been closed.

He said workers have been walking the line and that an airplane is also being used to spot any problems. Daily water samples from the river have come back clean, he said.

He said there was no estimate on how much fuel might have leaked if a leak was the cause of the pressure drop.

The pipe carries fuel from the company's refinery in Billings, Mont., Callender said, and is piped to Missoula, Mont., where it's taken by train to Thompson Falls, Mont. From there it goes into the Yellowstone Pipeline and to Spokane, Wash. The company is now trucking fuel to the Spokane distribution center.

Callender said that, for proprietary market reasons, the company doesn't give out logistical information about moving fuel and declined to say at what point the fuel is being put in trucks for the trip to Spokane.

"We don't expect any supply disruptions," said Callender.

He said the portion of the pipe where the problem occurred has been filled with water for a pressure test.

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