Baytex submits action plan to ERCB following accidental land spraying with crude oil by Erin Steele, July 19, 2011, Record-Gazette
Following a high-risk enforcement action issued against Baytex Energy by the Energy Resources Conservation Board (ERCB) for depositing crude oil in a farmer’s field in the Three Creeks area in April along with its drill cuttings, Baytex has submitted the mandatory action plan. “Immediate corrective action was taken at the location. We met with Baytex’s management and they’ve submitted action plans to us to make sure that these situations don’t happen again,” said ERCB Spokesman Bob Curran. When a high-risk enforcement action is issued, the ERCB can go as far as shutting down facilities, though in this case such drastic measures were not necessary. In April a vacuum truck hauling drill cuttings to spread on the field (a process called land spraying) carried crude oil with it, depositing that on the field as well. The ERCB tested the soil, found it to be contaminated and submitted the high-risk enforcement action.
“We’ve actually changed all of our procedures there. We were actually disappointed as well. It just should not have happened. We’ve got some new people in place, we’ve got some new procedures in place,” said Marty Proctor, the Chief Operating Officer with Baytex. “They [the ERCB] wanted a report to follow up to make sure we don’t do it again. We’ve given them our plan,” Proctor said. “New procedures are working now but we’re looking at more innovations in that area. It’s a bit early for me to comment on it, but the ERCB was satisfied with our program.”
According to Proctor, spraying drilling cuttings on the field is good for the land and crop generation. “All it really is, is taking in sand and some shale’s and stuff from the hole we drill out before you get to the target zone and spraying it on the field,” Proctor said and explained it is not supposed to have crude in it. Proctor expressed the process is not to be confused with land farming which he says is a “much more rigorous process.” “It involves contaminated wastes, stuff you know has oil in it. Land farming is a kind of a long process where you put the contaminated waste on the field and you stir it up to continuously get organisms in there to break up the oil. This was not what we were doing there,” he explained. Land farming is a common practice in Alberta to dispose of oil sands waste. [Emphasis added]