REGINA – Husky Energy has asked for more time to submit technical reports on an oil pipeline spill into the North Saskatchewan River in July.
The Saskatchewan government says Husky (TSX:HSE) has been granted a 30-day extension on the metallurgic review of the failed pipe and a geotechnical report on the land where the failure occurred.
Doug MacKnight is with the Ministry of Economy’s petroleum and natural gas division, which is responsible for licensing pipelines and overseeing the Husky investigation. He says an extension isn’t common.
“But then again, this is an uncommon incident. We haven’t had one of this scale,” MacKnight said Friday in a conference call with media.
Pipeline regulations in Saskatchewan allow for extensions on reports. MacKnight said the rule is there specifically for this kind of lengthy and complex investigation.
“This a major piece of scientific and engineering research that has to go on,” he said.
“The pipe is located on a slope. There’s a lot of science in terms of investigating the metallurgic failure as well as the technical environment in which the pipe is operating. There is a lot of work involved here. The priority is getting a thorough report.”
Husky was expected to submit a full report within 90 days of the pipeline breach. The government now expects a full assessment of the cause of the spill by Nov. 21.
A one-page update provided Friday by Husky said 225,000 litres of oil spilled into the river near Maidstone, Sask., in July and affected an area of about 41,500 square metres. It’s the first time the government has received an official report on the affected land area, said MacKnight.
The update said about 210,000 litres have been recovered.
Ash Olesen, with the Environment Ministry, said that’s about 93 per cent of the oil spilled. Olesen could not say at what point officials will acknowledge that no further oil can be recovered.
“The expectation is that if, in fact, there is anything to be retrieved, we would be actively requiring Husky to do so,” he said.
Work has moved from spill response to recovery and remediation, Olesen said, and the river is to be monitored over the winter.
The spill forced the cities of North Battleford, Prince Albert and Melfort to shut off their water intakes from the river and find other water sources for almost two months.
The province has said it will be inspecting all oil pipelines that cross rivers or lakes where a potential failure could threaten municipal water supplies.