Auditor criticizes provincial government over lack of pipeline regulation

Auditor’s report has tough talk for goverment

Provincial auditor Judy Ferguson said the government isn’t doing enough to regulate oil and gas pipelines.

Last year’s Husky Energy oil spill happened four years after the provincial auditor told the government to clean up its act around pipeline regulation.

“We do know that having strong regulatory processes and active regulation does decrease the chances of those events occurring,” she said.

Of the auditor’s seven recommendations, the Ministry of Economy has only fully implemented four.

“In the five years since we’ve made our recommendations, the ministry still hasn’t developed the foundational processes for effective regulation,” Ferguson said.

“We thought they’d be further along.”

The government countered that it has made substantial progress and points to an updated Pipeline Act.

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“We will be moving forward with more comprehensive audit programs focused on risk areas, that’s work ahead of us, and we are moving towards that under our pipeline enhancement regulation program,” assistant deputy economy minister Doug MacKnight said.

Ferguson also noted in her report that the ministry had asked pipeline companies to fill out a compliance form in 2014 but was still waiting on some of the forms more than two years later.

“It’s not only that we haven’t seen compliance reports. It’s that the ministry doesn’t have processes in place yet. They haven’t turned their mind to even assessing the results that are in the compliance reports that they have received and to come up with a strategy to make sure that the pipelines are in fact safe,” Ferguson said.

“Those declarations require the companies to do a lot of work to go through their records, to make sure the records they’re submitting to us with the information they have and we have is correct, and they’re signed off by senior people with the company,” MacKnight said.