Trilogy Adds to AER’s Fox Creek Frac’ing Free-for-all Pilot Project Failure: Trilogy’s Pipeline may have leaked ‘for a while’ before spill discovered

Trilogy says pipeline may have leaked ‘for a while’ before spill was discovered by Reid Southwick, October 17, 2016, Calgary Herald

More than a week after Trilogy Energy Corp. learned a pipeline was leaking oil northwest of Edmonton, the junior company has not determined the cause or the volume of crude that has spilled into marshland. [Intentionally perhaps, to have less to clean up, let it flow on by in the fresh water, with AER blessings and smiles?]

John Williams, the company’s president and chief operating officer, said Trilogy’s leak-detection system at its Kaybob project failed to identify the spill, which covers an area equivalent to five football fields.

“The spill was not of the magnitude to trigger any of the shutdown devices,” Williams said in a recent interview.

It means the company doesn’t know how long the pipeline was leaking emulsion fluid, a combination of oil and water, before a helicopter pilot noticed it during a routine check of the site Oct. 6.

“This could have been leaking for a while and now we have to do some forensics to figure out what the volume is,” Williams said Friday.

[Or do some bookkeeping cooking, like Encana’s CEO Doug Suttles was reported doing?

2016 06 13: BP to Pay $175 Million to settle claims to US investors that “its managers lied about” size of 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill; Current Encana CEO Doug Suttles was one of those managers

2013 04 11: Battered Encana taps former BP exec Doug Suttles, who reportedly covered-up the extent of the Deepwater Horizon disaster, as new CEO ]

“Now that we can say, here is the area, we’re going to start remediation.” [Is Trilogy intentionally delaying so many days? Why is the AER allowing such horrifically tardy start to remediation? Most of the toxic spill product will be long gone, flowed down stream. Why not start remediating immediately? Remediation work and trying to figure out how big a spill  it is can be done simultaneously?]

The incident comes just months after Alberta’s energy watchdog warned improper leak detection was a major factor in eight of 23 spills investigated since June 2013.

Each investigation found workers responsible for identifying leaks were improperly trained or simply failed to recognize the spills until days after they started. It took companies an average of 48 days to respond and isolate these leaking pipelines, the regulator said in a July bulletin.

The latest spill was discovered amid an often-heated debate about pipelines and environmental impacts from oilsands development.

In August, up to 250,000 litres of oil mixed with a lighter hydrocarbon spilled from Husky Energy Inc.’s pipeline into the North Saskatchewan River. Nearly 150 animals, mostly fish and small mammals, were found dead in the area.

“When an incident like this happens, it creates challenges for the industry as a whole,” said Patrick Smyth, vice-president of safety and engineering at the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association.

At Trilogy’s Kaybob project in the resource-rich Montney formation near Fox Creek, the pipeline that failed transports water and oil emulsion from wells to a central processing facility.

The leaked oil and water mixture flowed into wet marshland that is densely vegetated and has hampered access to the spill site. Two birds were found dead in the area.

Williams said an electromagnetic survey suggests the spill is about three hectares in size, though he said oil is not spread across the entire area. He said there are “hotspots” with higher concentrations of crude.

Energy Minister Margaret McCuaig-Boyd said in a statement that pipeline spills are “unacceptable.”

“In the rare instances when they happen, Albertans expect we find out what went wrong and do whatever it takes to make sure it never happens again. That’s exactly what is happening now,” McCuaig-Boyd said, citing investigations by the company and Alberta’s energy regulator.

[Honesty Check for Alberta’s Energy Minister:

2016 07 14: Alberta averages two crude oil spills a day for decades and all the AER can do is “urge” companies to improve detection of pipeline leaks? When is AER going to “urge” Encana to fix Rosebud’s frac’d aquifers?

These two spills a day on average do not include spills of other oilfield waste, chemicals and products]

Seven days after the company reported the spill, the Alberta Energy Regulator issued an environmental protection order calling on the company to contain the oil and come up with plans for cleanup and preventing impacts on wildlife.

Peter Murchland, spokesman for the regulator, said the watchdog took a week to issue the order because it needed time to get a better grasp of the spill.

“Since October 7th onwards, we’ve had inspectors and staff working alongside the operator to make sure they are responding in an appropriate manner to the incident,” Murchland said, adding the regulator is satisfied with Trilogy’s response.

Williams said the company has not yet been able to dig up the pipe responsible for the leak because a small stream is draining overtop of it. Crews must first divert the stream before they can start digging. [Why did the company install a pipeline there in the first place? Worse, why did the AER permit it there?]

In its daily update on its spill response, Trilogy said Monday it had planned to continue efforts to divert the stream, recover leaked fluids, sample soil and water for contaminants, and improve access through the area’s dense brush.

Carol Linnitt, managing editor with the environmental online magazine DeSmog Canada, said she was worried about the volume of oil that has spilled into the marsh area, since the company and regulator have not disclosed any estimates.

“All we can do is point to the fact that this is a concerning situation,” Linnitt said. [Emphasis added]

Why We Still Don’t Know How Much Oil Was Spilled in an Alberta Wetland
by Carol Linnitt, October 17, 2016,
The volume of a crude oil pipeline spill that occurred in an Alberta wetland remains undetermined although both the pipeline’s operator, Trilogy Energy Corp, and representatives from the Alberta Energy Regulator have been on scene since the spill was first reported October 6.

The cause of a leak in the underground pipeline, located at Trilogy’s Kaybob Montney oil project near Fox Creek, also remains undetermined, according to John William, Trilogy president and chief operating officer.

In a telephone interview Friday William said he believes the leak to be small in size and therefore “very difficult to detect.”

William said he preferred not to speculate on the cause of the spill.

Location of the Kaybob Montney oil project near Fox Creek, Alberta. Image: Trilogy Energy Corp

“I can speculate but that doesn’t do any good,” William said.

Trilogy estimates the spill covers three hectares, the equivalent of 21 tennis courts.

In 2011, a spill from a pipeline operated by Plains Midstream contaminated just over three hectares of beaver habitat and muskeg in a remote area near Little Buffalo, territory of the Lubicon Cree First Nation, after releasing 28,000 barrels of oil — almost 4.5 million litres — into the environment.

The Plains Midstream leak, discovered after a leak detection system sounded an alarm, is considered one of the largest oil spills in Alberta’s history.

According to the AER the Trilogy leak was detected during an inspection and not because of a leak detection alarm.

“I’m just as interested as anyone else to get the pipe out of the ground to find out what it was that caused the leak, the size of the hole and to find out the volume,” William said.

A spokesperson for the Alberta Energy Regulator said they could not “predict” when the spill volume would be made public and directed DeSmog Canada to Trilogy’s website for further information. [AER: Master deregulator, liar and enabler, as usual?]

William said he is resisting the pressure to release a spill volume until a more accurate measurement can be determined. Crews are currently working to excavate the pipe — a job William said he doesn’t expect to be completed for another week or so.

According to a company report, crews are removing contaminated soil as they dig out the pipe. Spilled oil emulsion, a mixture of oil and water, is also being pumped into storage tanks and transported to a disposal facility. The removal of contaminated material will help the company get an idea of the spill’s size.

Research shows oil and gas companies consistently underestimate spill size in their reporting.

According to the company two dead birds, a woodpecker and “small sparrow like bird,” were found on site, covered in oil. No other impacts to wildlife have been reported.

The spill occurred in a remote wetland location, surrounded by dense bush. The location of the spill reportedly hampered emergency response efforts. [Emphasis added]

A comment:

Lynda Iwanik • 4 hours ago
Secrecy is used as a cover up. Transparency does not exist in the oil industry.

[Refer also to:

2016 10 14: AER still trying to impress the Supreme Court of Canada, re Ernst vs AER ruling ahead? Issues order to Trilogy to stop using leaking oil-water emulsion pipeline at Fox Creek, which company had already done. Spill grown to five football fields in size

2016 10 13: Trilogy oil emulsion pipeline spill in Alberta flowing wetland reaches size of four football fields

2016 10 07: AER & Trilogy not prepared for the emergency! “Another” Canadian pipeline spills oil and pollutes fresh flowing water; Trilogy Energy Corp leaks oil into flowing wetland in AER’s Blanket Approval Frac Frenzy Pilot Project at Fox Creek

2016 08 01: Why isn’t AER’s Fox Creek Frac Frenzy Regulatory Failure front page news? AER releases evaluation of its Play-Based (Blanket Approval) DeRegulation Pilot

2014 04 05: Alleged groundwater pollution concerns by Trilogy at Fox Creek under investigation; Whistleblower: “cement job didn’t go as planned and there was NO cement in the hole” ]

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