Pipeline leak oil spill smaller than feared

Originally published by the Calgary Herald.

By Dina O’Meara, Calgary Herald

Pipeline leak contained oil, not emulsion

A pipeline leak last month in northern Alberta was much smaller than first estimated and contained oil, not emulsion, as thought by both the producer and provincial regulators.

Approximately 5,000 barrels of sweet crude spilled onto the muskeg about 20 kilometres southeast of Rainbow Lake, down from initial estimates of 22,000 barrels, operator Pace Oil & Gas Ltd. said Thursday.

The company thought the leak, discovered May 19 during a routine flyover, contained saltwater and oil associated with natural gas production being piped to a waste injection well.

Subsequent analysis of samples from the site showed very little salt in the water, said Fred Woods, Pace president and chief executive.

“The fact that it was all low chloride would indicate it was native water, not produced water,” Woods said Thursday. “Part of the conundrum we’re dealing with as well is . . . where is the water from my saltwater disposal well. That’s part of the investigation.”

The original well was drilled in 1966 for oil, then converted to a water disposal well in 1977.

The Energy Resource Conservation Board noted it had not verified how much fluid had spilled at the remote site.

“We are not at a point where we are prepared to confirm volumes,” said a spokesman, Bob Curren…

Continue reading the Calgary Herald.

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