US protestors sabotage Canadian oil supply in coordinated publicity stunt
A spokeswoman for the group told Reuters the pipelines were tampered with early Tuesday morning by cutting off the chain locks and manually closing the emergency shut-off valves. The protestors and their support crews recorded the event on video, then patiently waited for up 90 minutes for the police to arrive. The activists assured the public they carefully researched the stunt for several months to ensure no harm to the public or environment.
The five sections of pipelines targeted include Enbridge's Line 4 and Line 67 in Minnesota, TransCanada's Keystone pipeline in North Dakota, Spectra Energy's Express Pipeline in Montana and Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain line in Washington State.
TransCanada, Enbridge and Spectra shut their respective pipelines down as a precautionary measure. Kinder Morgan confirmed the targeted segment of pipe was not in operation at the time and the feeder pipeline into Washington State is operating normally. Spectra confirmed its line was not damaged and is in the process of returning to normal operation.
The 5 pipelines carry up to 2.8 million bbl/day of Canadian oil into the US, representing over 10% of the country's total daily oil consumption.
The group issued a press release claiming the attacks were meant to show solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, which have been protesting construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline carrying Bakken oil from North Dakota to the US Gulf Coast. However, the group's main focus appears to be an "immediate end" to the use of Alberta's oil sands and coal in order to "avert climate change cataclysm".
So far, there appears to be no material impact on oil deliveries into the US. However, the stunt was likely just meant to draw media attention to the little-know group, who is now asking for public donations to cover impending legal costs.
Emergency shutdown valves are fenced in and typically chain locked. Although some have called for much more restricted access, emergency valves need to be easily accessed in cases of emergencies. However, several acts of sabotage carried out in recent years highlights just how vulnerable North America's pipeline network is to acts of domestic terrorism.