Exxon Mobil Corp is working on a plan to repair and restart a ruptured Montana pipeline that spilled up to 1,000 barrels of crude into the Yellowstone River last weekend, but restoration is not expected for at least two weeks, an executive said on Wednesday. “Restoration of the line is something we’ll look at separately,” said Gary Pruessing, president of Exxon Mobil Pipeline Company. “It’s not something that’s going to happen in the next day, or week, or couple of weeks.” He said the immediate concern is cleanup of leaked oil from the Silvertip line. The U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) and the Environmental Protection Agency are investigating the cause of the spill, along with Exxon Mobil and Montana state environmental regulators.
U.S. officials on Friday could not offer a firm date when deepwater permits to drill for oil in the Gulf of Mexico will be issued, as crude posted its highest weekly close in more than two years. “We are carefully and rigorously reviewing drilling plans,” Michael Bromwich, director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, the offshore drilling regulator, said at a news conference. “I am quite confident we will again get to the point where we can begin issuing deepwater permits.” A drilling ban put in place after BP Plc’s disastrous Macondo well blowout last year in the Gulf was lifted in October, but no new deepwater drilling permits have been approved yet. U.S. crude oil futures posted their highest weekly settlement in almost 2-1/2 years on Friday on supply disruptions due to the revolt in Libya.