Canadian Manufacturing

New Alberta pipeline spill leaking heavy crude

Some 230,000 litres of heavy crude spewed from a pumping station on Enbridge Inc.'s Athabasca pipeline.


ELK POINT, Alta.—Another oil spill in Alberta spewed 230,000 litres of heavy crude oil northeast of Edmonton.

The Energy Resources Conservation Board (ERCB) says the leak happened Monday June 18 at a pumping station on Enbridge Inc.’s Athabasca pipeline about 24 kilometres southeast of Elk Point.

ERCB’s Darin Barter said Tuesday that the amount of oil spilled hasn’t been confirmed.

“It’s a significant size spill,” said Barter. “Any amount of crude oil out of a pipeline is significant to us. Obviously we’ve had a number of pipeline incidents in the past short while and we’re monitoring cleanup on them and we have a number of investigations underway.”

Barter said the pumping station—a 12-year-old facility in the middle of a field—has been isolated. He also said the oil has not spilled into any waterways.

Enbridge said in a news release that the cause of the leak appears to be a failure of a flange gasket. It said as soon as it detected the leak, it notified civic authorities and other regulatory agencies.

Enbridge said immediately after the leak was detected, the pipeline was shut down. It was restarted again Monday afternoon, but the company was ordered by the ERCB to shut it down again Tuesday afternoon.

The leak is the second major spill in Alberta this month. Up to 475,000 litres of oil leaked from a pipeline owned by Plains Midstream Canada into the Red Deer River and flowed into Gleniffer Lake earlier this month.

The province is advising people not to draw water directly from the river or lake, and it’s telling people not to swim or fish in the lake.

Enbridge is proposing to build a pipeline that would stretch from Alberta to the B.C. coast and transport oilsands oil. The Northern Gateway pipeline is in the midst of public hearings and is encountering a lot of opposition amongst First Nation groups.

Enbridge operates about 24,613 kilometres of crude pipeline, delivering on average more than 2.2 million barrels per day of oil and liquids.