30 October 2020
Major produced water spill at Husky asset in Alberta
More than 5,600 bbls of produced water have been released from a pipeline to the environment
On October 26, large Canadian operator Husky Energy reported to the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) that 500 m3 (3,145 bbl) of produced water had spilled from a pipeline near Rainbow Lake. The spill, which was discovered during a daily inspection and whose cause remains unknown, has since been reassessed at 900 m3 (5,660 bbl).
The operator’s communication manager, Dawn Delany, told WiO that some of the produced water entered a nearby muskeg, or swamp, and that the spill is now contained.
“Cleanup efforts continue, including the use of pumps and vacuum trucks,” she said. “There have been no observed impacts to wildlife and fencing is in place to keep wildlife from the area.”
It is not yet clear what penalties Husky may face as a result, though the AER may issue a fine.
“The AER reviews the cause and circumstances of each incident. If we determine that Husky is not in compliance with our requirements, we have a number of compliance and enforcement tools to bring them back into compliance,” Jordan Fitzgerald, the agency’s external communication advisor, told WiO.
The AER evaluates the impacts of violations to public safety, the environment or resource production and determines fines based on a “contravention scale” (see below). The agency’s website defines the “release of a substance to the environment with the potential to cause an impact” as a major contravention and “release of a substance to the environment that would have caused lasting damage over a significant period of time if immediate action wasn’t taken” as a major impact.
News of the spill comes just days after the announcement that Husky and fellow Canadian operator Cenovus would combine in a $3.8 billion merger.