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Husky Energy gets the ok to restart pipeline

Published by , Senior Editor
World Pipelines,

The Saskatchewan government has given Husky Energy the all clear to restart a pipeline after a major oil spill along the North Saskatchewan River that fouled the water source for three cities. The government said in an email to media on Thursday that testing, inspection and evaluation of the repairs to the line have been done.

In July 2016, the pipeline leaked 225 000 litres of heavy oil mixed with diluent onto a riverbank near Maidstone, Saskatchewan. About 40% of the spill reached the river.

Husky's own investigation determined that the pipeline buckled because of ground movement. The company has said it accepts full responsibility and is using what it learned to improve operations.

The government said measures have been taken to reduce the risk of a future failure at the same spot. They include thicker pipe on the sloped portion of the pipeline.

Other steps include adding meters to monitor the rate of ground movement, state-of-the art fibre optics to track pipeline strain and slope movement.

Husky will also submit weekly data from gauges measuring strain on the pipeline and submit an engineering assessment every 12 months of where the pipeline crosses the river.

A Husky spokesperson said the company is looking to restart operations by this weekend or Monday. It will take anywhere from 10 to 14 days to fill the pipeline and have things flowing normally.

Saskatchewan's Justice Ministry is still reviewing Husky's response to alarms before the spill to decide whether charges should be laid.

Government prosecutors are still looking into whether the Calgary-based company should face environmental charges, which could result in millions of dollars in fines, for the 20 July, 2016 incident.

“Significant testing, inspection and evaluation of the repairs to this line have been undertaken,” Government Spokeswoman Kathy Young said in an email, one day after the Ministry of the Economy — which regulates most pipelines in the province — authorised the restart.

“Husky’s integrity management program has been updated to include all geotechnical hazards and all management programs have been updated and implemented.”

Husky President and CEO Rob Peabody said this summer that leak detection systems in place on the pipeline did not fail, but “there wasn’t an unambiguous message coming from the systems.”

Husky said in February that the total cost of cleaning up the spill is CAN$107 million.

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