Saskatchewan pipeline

Saskatchewan to boost environmental controls after 2016

pipeline spill when land motion caused cracking of buckle

Environment Policy & Law, April 2017 issue

Randy Ray and Kenneth Pole
Editors, Environment Policy & Law

Regina — Saskatchewan’s government has taken steps to improve environmental regulations after a Husky Energy pipeline rupture near Lloydminster in July 2016.

“Since the Husky spill...we’ve recognized that we need to do better when it comes to preventing incidents,” Energy & Resources Minister Dustin Duncan said in April after the release of the findings of an investigation into the incident. “The changes...will help ensure that workers and the environment are well protected moving forward.”

The cause of the pipeline break, according to the investigation, was mechanical cracking in a buckle in the pipeline. The buckle was caused by ground movement on the slope which occurred over many years. The investigators have concluded that the slope movement was not a sudden, one-time event.

It is estimated that roughly 60% of the spilled oil was contained or recovered on land prior to the point of entry into a nearby river.

Proposed regulatory improvements based on the investigation’s findings include:

• The Pipelines Amendment Act, 2016 (Bill 43) is to be passed by the end of the spring session to provide the foundation for strengthening regulatory requirements for pipelines. These changes are broad- based and will address a variety of gaps in the current legislative framework.

• The Ministry of the Economy will immediately begin work on a compliance audit of the integrity management programs of companies that operate pipelines across major water crossings. This work will build off the inspections conducted last year, but will include a review of corporate oversight of these programs.

• The ministry will also work with stakeholders and third-party experts to develop regulatory standards for water crossings. The investigation determined that current regulatory standards and integrity management practices need to be strengthened to fully address the types of risks associated with these locations, particularly slope movement.

• The ministry will review the design of legacy water crossings to determine whether additional measures may be needed to manage geotechnical risk. The Husky pipeline was built in 1997 based on the engineering standards of the time. Economy will be working to ensure that any deficiencies in these older designs are addressed by operators in terms of the integrity management practices or new mitigation measures.

“We have consulted with industry on these actions,” Duncan said. “Working together, we will ensure the timely implementation of any changes.”

While the technical review, conducted in partnership by the ministries of Economy and Environment and the Water Security Agency, with the support of Skystone International, is complete, the full report will be released once all prosecutions and any appeals have been concluded.

For more information: Deb Young, (306) 787-4765 or