Keystone operator ordered to reduce pressure on oil flowing to Cushing

An aerial view of the Keystone oil spill cleanup operation. (Courtesy of the Environmental Protection Agency)


T-C Energy said this week it would comply with a federal government order to reduce the operating pressure on the Keystone pipeline where a break in December 2022 spilled nearly 13,000 barrels oil into a northern Kansas creek.

The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) issued the order on Tuesday, requiring TC Energy to reduce the pressure on more than 1,000 additional miles. It came after the Canadian pipeline operator had finished a controlled restart of the 622,000-barrel-per-day pipeline to the Cushing Hub in northern Oklahoma reported Reuters.

The restart put the line back in service after a 21-day outage after the biggest U.S. oil spill in nine years.

The PHMSA suggested the reduction in pipeline pressure was needed because it felt the “operating, maintenance, and/or integrity management programs may be inadequate to address the repetitious pattern of failures related to the original design, manufacture, and construction of Keystone pipeline.”

Reuters explained the corrective action order now requires TC Energy to maintain the operating pressure on the affected segment under the previously agreed upon 923 pounds per square gauge limit.

The order came as TC Energy revealed it had cleaned up most of the oil spill but there still remained months more work ahead at the site near Washington, Kansas. Estimated cost of the cleanup is $500 million.