Saskatchewan Government Continues to Strengthen Pipeline Regulations after Oil Spill

Saskatchewan’s Ministry of the Economy is standing up for its record of pipeline inspections after the Husky Energy oil spill that occurred late July.

The Acting Provincial Auditor Judy Ferguson on Wednesday told the media that her office has had concerns with pipeline inspections in Saskatchewan.

Pipeline regulation has been a hot topic in the province after the leak spilled approximately 1,570 gallons of oil into the North Saskatchewan River, damaging the water source for two cities that use the river for drinking supply.

A 2012 report listed seven recommendations after auditors found flaws in the regulatory system. One recommendation the auditors made was that the pipeline operations should be monitored instead of allowing industry self-assessments.

The Ministry of Economy says it pays close and serious attention to auditor reports and has been working for several years to strengthen its regulatory insight.

Deputy Minister Laurie Pushor said the ministry works very closely with its team as well as with regulators across western Canada and across the country.

Pushor stated the government had not inspected the Husky Energy pipeline itself but rather regularly reviewed pressure test results provided by the company. He added that the spill will shape pipeline inspections into the future.

The ministry has been working on pipeline regulation changes for the past few years and has made changes such as moving the oversight of pipeline inspections out of the Ministry of the Economy’s petroleum and natural gas division in order to “give a clear focus on oversight.” Another change includes using an electronic database to more easily track where spills are happening and which companies are responsible for them.

Pushor said the ministry’s new information system allows it to be much more efficient in collecting information and evaluating what is happening. It allows more focus on regulatory oversight and monitoring.

The auditor’s office will be issuing a pipeline regulation review in the fall.

CBC News