July pipeline spill one-time event caused by ‘ground movement,’ Husky says

  • 18 Nov 2016
  • Regina Leader-Post
  • ALEX MACPHERSON

July pipeline spill one-time event caused by ‘ground movement,’ Husky says

Husky Energy Inc. says the pipeline failure that dumped 225,000 litres of heavy crude near and into the North Saskatchewan River in July was caused by ground movement triggered by heavy rain and weak soil conditions.

“The break was a sudden, onetime event in a section of the pipe that had buckled due to the force of ground movement,” the Calgarybased company said in a summary of its investigation filed Thursday with the provincial government.

The break occurred 160 metres from the south riverbank, leading to about 40 per cent of the spilled crude — 90,000 litres — flowing into the river, Husky said in the report.

As of Sept. 30, the company had spent $90 million on cleanup efforts.

Husky was expected to file its final report on Oct. 21, but was given a 30-day extension after explaining that geotechnical and metallurgical reports being prepared by Stantec Consulting Ltd. and Acuren Group Inc. were taking longer than expected. Stantec said in its geotechnical report that, given available evidence, “the most recent movement affecting the pipelines was likely triggered by a high precipitation event,” poor drainage and weak ground conditions.

The pipeline had two leak detection systems, but work underway on the Saskatchewan Gathering System pipeline network at the time of the break could have caused them to register “anomalies,” Husky’s investigation found.

“We know the impact this incident had on communities and would like to acknowledge the extraordinary assistance we’ve received throughout,” Husky spokesman Mel Duvall said in an email.

“From the beginning we have taken full responsibility and continue to do so.”

Husky said its investigation concluded that the Saskatchewan Gathering System — which carries oil from wells in Saskatchewan to its Lloydminster upgrader — was built to standard and that operators “responded appropriately.”

However, the company outlined several steps it plans to take to reduce the risk of another spill, including reassessment of geotechnical risks, reviewing its leak detection processes and taking steps to reduce false alarms.

The provincial government has hired an engineering firm to review Husky’s findings, but the company’s report is consistent with the government’s conclusions to date, Energy and Resources Minister Dustin Duncan told reporters Thursday.

Approximately 8,900 pipelines in Saskatchewan run under or near bodies of water. Public pressure after the Husky spill led the government — the province’s pipeline regulator — to inspect 125 of the most critical crossings.

Duncan said none of the inspections has raised concerns about shoreline instability. He was reluctant to comment on what impact — if any — its investigation would have on the province’s regulatory regime.

“I don’t want to speak too much to what may come as a result of this in terms of how we regulate these types of pipelines going forward in the future, (because I think) first we need to finish our final report,” he said.

Husky has come under intense scrutiny since the spill, with experts raising questions about its claim that crews recovered about 90 per cent of the spilled oil, as well as its timeline of the spill itself. That report, which was filed in July, said the leak was detected around 8 p.m. on July 20. Husky then amended the report to say the spill wasn’t detected until 10 a.m. the following morning. It later attributed the change to a “miscommunication.”

It remains unclear when the pipeline failed. Acuren said in its technical report that “the timing of the original buckling of the pipe could not be determined in our investigation.”

The official Opposition NDP has also weighed in, criticizing the government’s pipeline regulatory regime — which has been the target of two damning auditor’s reports — and its decision to extend Husky’s deadline to explain the spill.

Late last month, Husky reported an adjusted third-quarter loss of $100 million, bringing its year-todate adjusted losses to $649 million. At the same time, it said it plans to expand its heavy oil operations in Saskatchewan and Alberta.

 

 

 

About prosperitysaskatchewan

Consultant on Saskatchewan's natural resources.

Posted on November 18, 2016, in economic impact, miscellaneous, oil, political. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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