Husky Energy changes day it discovered oil pipeline spill in Saskatchewan

Husky Energy has changed details about when it discovered its oil pipeline spill into the North Saskatchewan River.

Earlier this week, the company filed a report that said it found the leak of up to 250,000 litres of blended crude oil at 8 p.m. on July 20 and notified the Saskatchewan government about 14 hours later.

A new report that has been sent to the province amends the date the breach was discovered to 10 a.m. on July 21. Husky (TSX:HSE) says it told the province of the spill about 30 minutes later.

Last week, the company had said it found “pressure anomalies” in the pipeline on the evening of July 20 and shut down the line the next morning.

Husky spokesman Mel Duvall said the company made the change because the first report was based on a miscommunication.

“We wanted to clarify the report to provide the most accurate information available,” he said Thursday in an email to The Canadian Press.

The provincial government declined to answer questions about the updated report.

Laurie Pushor, deputy minister in the Ministry of the Economy, said the government wanted to complete a full investigation of the spill first.

“We are going to reserve our thoughts and opinions on specific items in relation to the incident until such time as we have all of the facts gathered,” he said.

The government estimates the oil slick from the spill has travelled more than 500 kilometres down the river. Cleanup efforts have been focused mainly along a 20-kilometre stretch from the leak near Maidstone, Sask.

Also on Thursday, a precautionary boil-water advisory for the city of Melfort and a number of outlying communities was lifted. The region normally takes its drinking water from the North Saskatchewan, but the arrival of the slick at the intake earlier this week forced a switch to a former reservoir. The advisory was issued because of concerns about the quality of the reservoir water.

The province’s Water Security Agency lifted the advisory because the quality was better than anticipated.

“It is back to water use as usual,” said Melfort Mayor Rick Lang.

Intakes for the cities of North Battleford and Prince Albert, which also get their drinking water from the river, remained closed due to the oil spill. Measures to conserve drinking water were still in place.

Work was ongoing to pipe in water to Prince Albert’s treatment plant from the South Saskatchewan River about 30 kilometres away. It was hoped that would be completed by Friday.

Saskatchewan’s Environment Ministry said water samples from the North Saskatchewan were being analyzed, but there were no results yet.

The CEO of TransCanada,the company behind the proposed Energy East Pipeline, said the Husky oil spill could increase public skepticism of such projects.

Russ Girling said in an interview that oil spills shake public confidence and TransCanada (TSX:TRP) will learn what it can from the Husky spill to improve pipeline safety.