Pipeline explosion shouldn't affect prices

9:39 PM, Nov 30, 2007   |    comments
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Oil speculators used Wednesday's pipeline explosion in northern Minnesota to push crude oil prices up four dollars a barrel. But those fears quickly passed as inspectors said the damage should be fixed in a matter of days. What can't be repaired is the pain and grief for the families of the two men killed in the blast. The heat from the explosion was so intense it took 10 hours for crews to get to the bodies of Dave Mussanti Jr. and Steve Arnovich. Arnovich's father called him "just one of those great guys." He was 35 years old, married and had a 5-year-old daughter. Arnovich and Mussanti both were from the Superior, Wisconsin, area. They were contract workers for Enbridge Energy. "This is a tragic day in our company's history," said the company's vice president Richard Bird. The Enbridge pipeline burst Wednesday afternoon after oil leaked near a new section of pipeline that had been repaired to fix a leak. The Enbridge system brings crude oil from Canada to the U.S. Jerry Fruin, a University of Minnesota applied economics professor said the pipeline affected by the fire carried about 10 percent of the U.S. crude oil supply. Fears that the explosion could have spiked gas prices cooled quickly. By day's end, on the news that two of the four Enbridge pipelines are back up and running, crude prices had pulled back after a four-dollar-per-barrel increase earlier in the day. Enbridge said three of its system's four lines were operational by the end of the day. The fourth one, where the fire erupted, will be fixed in two or three days. Canada is the largest supplier of oil to the U.S. But Jerry Fruin said this event, because of the quick recovery, will register as just a blip on the oil market. "Not that it wasn't serious, but I think it's a small even in the big picture," Fruin said. The enduring loss is felt by two families. "The community lost a friend, a son, a little brother, and more importantly, lost a great husband and a wonderful father," said Steve Arnovich's brother Jeff. The explosion came at a critical time when cold weather means there is a higher demand for crude oil, not just for gasoline, but for home heating oil. But according to Enbridge, its system is running at 80 percent capacity, even without the line that was affected by the fire.

By Scott Goldberg, KARE 11 News

(Copyright 2007 by KARE. All Rights Reserved.)

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