By July 22, 2016 Read More →

Husky Energy works to clean up oil spilled into North Saskatchewan River

Husky Energy

Husky Energy crews are working to clean up a pipeline spill on its Saskatchewan Gathering System located east of its Lloyminster facilities.  Company photo.

Husky Energy east of Lloydminster

By Rod Nickel and Julie Gordon

July 22 (Reuters) – Husky Energy Inc crews on Friday worked to clean up an oil spill into a major western Canadian river, the company said, with efforts focused on ensuring it does not contaminate the drinking water of communities downstream.

The company said late on Thursday it shut and isolated a pipeline on its Saskatchewan Gathering System, after roughly 200,000 to 250,000 liters (1,258 to 1,572 barrels) of heavy oil and diluent spilled from the line, running into the North Saskatchewan River.

Husky has placed berms and booms in the river to seal the spill, and is taking water samples, said Chief Operating Officer Rob Peabody, adding that no advisories about reduced water quality have been issued.

A spokeswoman for Saskatchewan’s environment ministry said in an email earlier on Friday it was her understanding that the leak was stopped, the site contained and clean-up fully underway.

Husky did not provide details on shipments impacted by the closure on a conference call with analysts, and said that it was assessing the spill’s business impact.

The Saskatchewan Gathering System runs from Husky’s heavy oil operations east of Lloydminster to facilities in that city, where the oil is upgraded, used in asphalt or shipped to Hardisty, Alberta.

“This gathering system is flexible,” Peabody said. “There’s more than one way to get through the pipeline system, so we really are expecting minimal impact to production at this stage.”

Husky shares rose 2 percent in Toronto to C$15.75. Earlier on Friday, Husky posted a smaller-than-expected loss.

The city of North Battleford, Saskatchewan, draws some of its drinking water from the river. Officials said they planned to shut supply intakes if the spill reached the community of 14,000 people.

Residents could then rely on treated well water, Mayor Ian Hamilton said in an interview.

Hamilton planned to speak with Husky about preventing future spills, adding that he was concerned about damage to the environment.

A sheen was initially visible on the river, but no communities downstream have reported sightings of oil or oil sheens, Peabody said.

The North Saskatchewan River is a major tributary to the Saskatchewan River, which flows east across Saskatchewan and Manitoba into Lake Winnipeg.

Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall said despite the spill, pipelines are a better way to move oil than rail.

“Though pipelines remain imperfect as a conveyance for our oil, they’re still the safest way to move oil,” he told reporters.

(Reporting by Rod Nickel in Winnipeg and Julie Gordon in Vancouver; Editing by Jeffrey Hodgson)

Posted in: Canada

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