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Shell Shuts Houma-to-Houston Oil Pipeline After Leak

By Aaron Clark – Nov 18, 2010 3:46 PM GMT+0000

Royal Dutch Shell Plc said a crude oil pipeline from Houma, Louisiana, to Houston remains shut after a Nov. 16 crude oil leak.

Ted Rolfvondenbaumen, a company spokesman, said he couldn’t provide a target date for the line’s restart. The conduit, known as the Ho-Ho pipeline system, can make deliveries to refineries in Texas and Louisiana with a combined capacity of more than 1.2 million barrels, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Rolfvondenbaumen said the 22-inch line has a maximum capacity of 360,000 barrels a day. According to Shell’s website, the line’s capacity is 325,000 barrels a day.

The leak occurred near the Intracoastal Waterway, and initially raised concern that crude might flow into the water, U.S. Coast Guard Capt. J.J. Plunkett said in a telephone interview. The spill pooled on dry ground and did not enter the waterway, he said.

About 1,500 barrels were spilled, according to an initial estimate done after dark, according to Plunkett.

The leak occurred in an “undeveloped area” outside Vinton, Louisiana, about 35 miles (56 kilometers) northeast of Port Arthur, Texas, according to a Shell statement. “There are no reports of any injuries or health impacts to people, impacts to wildlife or the Intracoastal Waterways,” the company said.

According to a filing with the National Response Center, a Shell pipeline spilled an unknown amount of crude oil Nov. 16 in Calcasieu Parish, Louisiana, near Vinton. According to a “worst case estimated” scenario, as much as 1,500 barrels may have leaked, according to the filing.


The Ho-Ho system can deliver crude to refineries operated by Citgo Petroleum Corp. and ConocoPhillips in Lake Charles, Louisiana, and Motiva Enterprises LLC and Total SA in Port Arthur, according to Shell’s website.

Rolfvondenbaumen said no Shell or Motiva refineries were affected by the pipeline shutdown. Bill Stephens, a spokesman for ConocoPhillips, didn’t immediately return an e-mail asking if the company’s Lake Charles refinery was affected.

Rick Hagar, a Total company spokesman, didn’t immediately return a phone call seeking comment.

The Ho-Ho system can also connect to Exxon Mobil Corp.’s Baytown, Texas, refinery via third party pipelines, according to Shell’s map of the system. Neely Nelson, a spokeswoman for the Baytown refinery, said the plant wasn’t affected.

Rolfvondenbaumen said he couldn’t comment on what percentage of capacity the Ho-Ho pipeline was operating at prior to the shutdown.

The Houma terminal can accept crude from the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port, according to Shell’s website. Barb Hestermann, a spokeswoman for the port, said the facility hasn’t been affected.

To contact the reporter on this story: Aaron Clark in New York at [email protected]

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Dan Stets at [email protected]

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