Conditions placed on Enbridge to restart an oil pipeline highlight the tougher stance US regulators are taking after a series of high-profile spills.

The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) gave Enbridge the greenlight for resumption of the 318,000-barrel-per-day (bpd) Line 14, which spilled 1,200 barrels of oil on a rural Wisconsin field in late July, after the agency said the Canadian firm agreed to a more stringent set of safety requirements.

The company plans to restart the line. The US regulatory agency is in the spotlight after two big accidents in 2010 – BP’s Macondo disaster in the Gulf of Mexico and another Enbridge leak of 20,000 barrels into Michigan’s Kalamazoo River in one of the biggest spills onshore. And analysts say as these spills have focused more attention on pipeline safety, the once-obscure PHMSA is getting more comfortable with flexing its recently enhanced muscles.

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