More than 53,000 gallons of heavy oil and thinning agent began leaking from a 19-year old pipeline near Maidstone, Saskatchewan last Thursday. The pipeline belongs to Husky Energy's Saskatchewan Gathering System. The leak occurred near the river, not under the river bed, Rob Peabody, chief operating officer for Calgary-based Husky, said Friday morning on a conference call.
As the oil found its way into the North Saskatchewan River, the source of drinking water for the cities of Prince Albert and North Battleford, the company scrambled to contain the emergency. Husky's attempts to isolate the oil spill in the river were complicated by a 3-foot rise in the river's water level that pushed debris into collection barriers, allowing the oil to move downstream.
On Monday, city manager Jim Toye said they had two days worth of water stored after which a new source would have to be found. The city has a water plan that includes collecting rainfall and pumping water from the South Saskatchewan River using a 19 mile hose. Farms outside the cities that rely on city water have had supplies cut off.
Clean up costs are expected to run into millions of dollars. According to Reuters, 40-percent of the oil has been cleaned up but the spill is still moving downriver.
Husky Energy’s operations include heavy oil production, an asphalt refinery and an upgrader to turn the crude into synthetic oil. The company has indefinitely closed the pipeline while Canada's federal environmental department investigates.
Another leak occurred at Suncor Energy's base oil sands mining plane in northern Alberta. About 125 barrels of diluent spilled onsite at the plan. The spill was contained by grass, leaves, and brush. Suncor temporarily closed access to their site.