Canadian board clears Pembina in pipeline accident

Canada's Energy Resources Conservation Board (ERCB) has accepted a technical explanation by Pembina Pipeline Corp. regarding an oil leak in 2008, saying no enforcement action would be imposed on the company.

Eric Watkins
OGJ Oil Diplomacy Editor

LOS ANGELES, Apr. 17 -- Canada's Energy Resources Conservation Board (ERCB) has accepted a technical explanation by Pembina Pipeline Corp. regarding an oil leak in 2008, saying no enforcement action would be imposed on the company.

ERCB determined that the leak, which occurred under the Red Deer River, occurred after the pipeline was undermined by unprecedented river flows and channel movement.

This undermining caused a segment of pipe to be suspended in the water column, while external stress on the exposed segment of the pipeline resulted in the failure.

"Pipeline failures in or near water crossings are typically a result of the rapid deviation of the existing river channel or a rapid erosion of the riverbed due to significant rainfall combined with spring melt," ERCB said.

It said this process "exposes sections of a pipeline that are then subjected to excessive external stresses."

ERCB said it accepted Pembina's technical explanation of the nature and circumstances of the pipeline failure, repair procedure and the subsequent activities being pursued to inspect other similar pipelines for potential problems.

The pipeline was repaired and buried 4-5 m under the river bed and was returned to service with ERCB approval on Aug. 25, 2008.

Meanwhile, ERCB said members of its field staff are conducting inspections and following up with operators to ensure pipelines that cross rivers are in compliance with all applicable regulations.

Contact Eric Watkins at hippalus@yahoo.com.

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