The pipeline industry's reputation - which energy companies need to safeguard to expand oil sands activity - was further dented after another pipeline leaked oil into an Alberta creek.
Pembina Pipeline Corp. shut its line near Slave Lake after discovering a spill that reached to muskeg and an unnamed creek, the company said Wednesday. The line leaked about 1,300 barrels of oil, and Pembina has installed booms and weirs to "reduce any further potential impact." The company shuttered the line Tuesday morning.
A string of leaks is hitting the industry hard, with two high-profile North American projects needing government approval. Enbridge Inc. wants to build a pipeline to the B.C. West Coast from the Alberta oil sands, and TransCanada Corp. is trying to persuade U.S. regulators to approve its proposed line extension to the Gulf of Mexico coast.
If both proposals were to die, oil sands companies will be forced to scale back their ambitious expansion plans. TransCanada's project is further along in the regulatory process than Enbridge's, but both face intense political and public scrutiny. Major operators including Exxon Mobil Corp., Enbridge, and TransCanada have all had recent leaks, and each new spill heightens criticism.
"We take this kind of incident extremely seriously," Bob Michaleski, Pembina's chief executive said in a statement Wednesday. "We are highly committed to the safety of the communities in which we operate and to the environment, and undertook immediate action to minimize any potential impact to the land and waterways once we confirmed the spill."
The spill happened about three kilometres north of Pembina's Swan Hills terminal and pump station, the company said. The site is the second shutdown near Slave Lake, with a portion of the Rainbow pipeline (owned by Plains All American Pipeline LP) closing after it spilled about 28,000 barrels of light oil on April 28.
Pembina said clean-up crews have been dispatched, and it has informed regulators. It has also arranged for its shippers to truck their crude to other Pembina truck terminals. It is trying to determine both the source and the precise size of the leak.
The company said it "confirmed that oil had not entered any named waterways or sources of drinking water."