globeandmail.com

Big cleanup in Alberta spill

Thursday, May 31, 2012

NATHAN VANDERKLIPPE

CALGARY -- A huge pipeline spill has released 22,000 barrels of oil and water into muskeg in the far northwest of Alberta.

The spill ranks among the largest in North America in recent years, a period that has seen a series of high-profile accidents that have undermined the energy industry's safety record. The Enbridge Inc. pipeline rupture that leaked oil near Michigan's Kalamazoo River, for example, spilled about 19,500 barrels.

The latest spill was discovered May 19 emanating from a pipeline belonging to Pace Oil & Gas Ltd., a small energy company that produces about 15,000 barrels a day, roughly half of that oil.

The spill has yet to be contained, although "we're very close," Pace chief executive Fred Woods said Wednesday.

The spill took place roughly 20 kilometres southeast of Rainbow Lake, which is 165 km south of the Northwest Territories border. It came from a pipeline used for water injection, carrying an emulsion that was roughly 70 per cent water and 30 per cent oil.

As with many pipeline spills, Calgary-based Pace did not detect a problem, but was informed of the leak by another company after the spill was spotted from an aircraft. The spill, which killed one duck, now covers 4.3 hectares. Mr. Woods declined comment on how long the line was leaking before detection.

Pace is setting up a 50-person camp near the spill site and has contracted workers to clean it up. By Monday, it had recovered 3,700 barrels of emulsion. It's unclear how long it will take to clean up. Alberta's Environmental Resources Conservation Board is investigating.

The province has seen a spate of recent leaks. Last year, the Rainbow pipeline, belonging to Plains All America Pipeline, spilled 28,000 barrels in northern Alberta.

Pace Oil & Gas (PCE)

Close: $3.49, down 8¢

Friday, June 01, 2012

CLARIFICATION

A 22,000-barrel oil-and-water spill in northern Alberta came from above-ground piping. Incomplete information was published Thursday.