Exclusive: Husky oil spill in Canadian river followed two others nearby - records

Tue Aug 2, 2016 5:08pm EDT
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By Allison Martell and Rod Nickel

(Reuters) - A Husky Energy Inc oil spill into a major Canadian river on July 20 was the third in the same area in eight months, government records showed, and could put new pressure on the province of Saskatchewan's energy regulator to improve its monitoring of pipelines.

The economy ministry is the energy regulator in the western Canadian province and officials there told Reuters it has never physically inspected the 19-year-old Husky pipeline since it was constructed.‎

"In some ways, the oil industry in Saskatchewan has been given a free pass by the province," said Emily Eaton, a University of Regina professor who studies the energy industry.

"Pipelines seem to be a particularly under-regulated part of the industry."

The two earlier spills - in December 2015 and June 2016 near the North Saskatchewan River - have not previously been reported. And while government records show there are hundreds of small hazardous waste spills in Saskatchewan each year, oil spills from pipelines are not as frequent.

Over the last 12 months, 11 spills were reported and three were from Husky pipelines in the Lloydminster area, where the company operates the Saskatchewan Gathering System. Three others were from Penn West Petroleum Ltd pipelines near Kindersley.

Asked about the leaks, Husky said it takes every incident seriously, and is conducting a full investigation.

On Dec. 30, less than three gallons of oil spilt about six kilometers (3.7 miles) south of the North Saskatchewan River. On June 7, 53 gallons of oil spilt within a few hundred meters of the river, affecting about 100 square meters of ground but not reaching the water.   Continued...

President and CEO Asim Ghosh of Husky Energy addresses shareholders during the company's annual general meeting in Calgary, Alberta, May 6, 2015.  REUTERS/Todd Korol/File Photo