The Saskatchewan government said a small hole has been discovered on top of a pipeline after an oil spill on the Ocean Man First Nation.
According to government officials, after the pipeline, which is owned by Tundra Energy Marketing Limited (TEML), was exposed on Jan. 25, a small hole on top of the pipe, located on a weld connecting two segments of pipe, was seen by provincial officials.
There are also no records on file of formal inspections of the pipeline done by provincial officials. The government said the pipeline was retroactively licensed in 2014 and records are not kept on inspections of unlicensed pipelines.
“During the licensing process that would have gone on, we would have received all the diagrams and the engineering from the company to make sure that the pipe was designed and what it was carrying was operating at regulatory standards,” Doug MacKnight, assistant deputy minister of economy, petroleum and natural gas division, said.
The pipeline was not licensed during construction in 1968, as short pipelines under 15 kilometres were exempt from licensing at the time under provincial law.
“I think it’s important to point that physical inspection of a right-of-way and the pipe’s operating properly, you aren’t going to see anything,” MacKnight said.
“It’s really critical that the company does good integrity management, inspecting the line itself using the technologies that they can deploy from doing that.”
The Petroleum and Natural Gas Division of the government has confirmed that there have been no incidents involving this pipeline recorded in its database, which was established in 1991.
The province was notified of the Ocean Man First Nation pipeline leak about 18 kilometers north of Stoughton, Sask. on Jan 20. Two hundred thousand litres of crude oil leaked onto First Nation farmland.
Tundra Energy has been leading the cleanup. The government says so far 180,000 litres (180 m3) of oil has been recovered and 454.9 tonnes of soil has been removed. Removal of saturated soil will continue after the affected line has been removed.
The government said excavation has confirmed only one pipeline was in the area of the spill and the source of the oil was the four-inch steel pipe owned by TEML. The pipeline, which was constructed in 1968, stretches for two kilometres and forms part of the larger south-east Saskatchewan crude oil gathering system.
The pipeline was most recently operated by Enbridge Income Fund Holdings in 2016. MacKnight said there is a bill before the legislature now that would make it a requirement to transfer records from one company to another. Right now, companies can transfer the complete records on their own.
According to the government, the damaged part of the pipe was sealed and the remaining oil in the pipeline is being removed. The size of the hole will be determined when the line is fully purged and the damage examined.
The government said there is no evidence from the initial visual inspection of the pipe that the break was a result of a ground disturbance.
The leaked oil was contained within a slough on the land and the government said the depth of cover at the break point is approximately 0.6 metres.
The government said the purging of the oil should wrap up Thursday and the damaged part of the pipeline will be removed for testing by Acuren Engineering.
The province will be investigating the cause of the oil spill.