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Exxon has no estimate for restart of Pegasus oil pipeline

Spilt oil from Exxon pipeline runs between homes in North Woods Subdivision in Mayflower, Arkansas in this April 1, 2013 photo released to R
Spilt oil from Exxon pipeline runs between homes in North Woods Subdivision in Mayflower, Arkansas in this April 1, 2013 photo released to R

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Exxon Mobil Corp said on Wednesday it had no estimate for the restart of a pipeline that spilled 5,000 barrels of oil in a small Arkansas town last month and sparked debate about the safety of carrying heavy crude from Canada across the United States.

A U.S. Department of Transportation source said Exxon had not yet submitted a restart plan.

"At this time, our focus remains on clean-up operations," Exxon spokesman David Eglington said of the Pegasus pipeline, which spilled the crude oil in a middle-class section of Mayflower, a town of about 2,300 people.

He said DOT's Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration must approve Exxon's plans to repair, test and restart the pipeline before the 90,000-barrel-per-day line can be returned to service.

The DOT source said, "When they will submit that (restart plan) and when we would approve it, I can't say," adding that some restart plan approvals have taken a day, while others have taken much longer.

Exxon said on Tuesday that it had installed a new section of the pipeline a day after it removed the broken portion. The 52-foot-long (15.8 meter) damaged pipeline piece was being shipped to an independent lab for metallurgy tests to figure out why it broke. The testing must be completed before Exxon is allowed to restart the pipeline.

(Reporting by Timothy Gardner; editing by John Wallace)

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