NEB orders TransCanada to stop drilling on Alberta’s Athabasca River
Extension project put on hold following four incidents of drilling fluid finding its way to nearby river
CALGARY—The National Energy Board has issued an Inspection Officer Order to NOVA Gas Transmission Ltd., a subsidiary of TransCanada Corp., that requires the pipeline company to cease “all further horizontal and directional drilling activity under the Athabasca River at the company’s McDermott Extension natural gas pipeline project.”
The regulator said the order follows four separate incidents which resulted in “the unintended release of drilling fluid” into the river. The NEB added that one slope failure has also been recorded at the project site, about 75 kilometres north of Fort McMurray, Alta.
The NEB said it responded immediately and continues to investigate the incidents, which includes an evaluation of the drilling mud composition and volumes released.
“The NEB confirms that NGTL is currently in non-compliance with NEB regulations for its failure to adhere to the NEB-approved Environmental Protection Plan,” the regulator said. “The Onshore Pipeline Regulations requires the company to ‘develop, implement and maintain an environmental protection program that anticipates, prevents, manages and mitigates conditions that could adversely affect the environment.'”