Pipeline company fined $125,000 for rupture southwest of Edmonton

An energy company has been fined $125,000 for a pipeline failure southwest of Edmonton nearly three years ago.

Calgary-based Journey Energy originally faced five charges under the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act in relation to a leak in the summer of 2017, near the town of Winfield, about 70 kilometres west of Wetaskiwin. 

The company pleaded guilty Wednesday in provincial court to one of the offences.

The Alberta Energy Regulator laid the charges after 9,000 litres of a mixture of crude oil and produced water was released from two break points on a steel pipeline.

Squirrels, amphibians and 330 fish died from exposure to oil. 

According to an agreed statement of facts, the first leak was called in to the AER emergency line around 4 p.m. on June 28 by nearby residents.  

Later on the same day, an operator from Journey Energy drove out to inspect the site, a field five kilometres upstream of Modeste Creek, and found a small release from the line.

A Journey Energy employee shut in the well and contacted the company’s head office in Calgary. 

The next day, on June 29, company employees returned to the area with an employee from the AER to dig up the line and investigate the first leak and discovered a second, much larger break in the same line.

The charges relate to the second leak, which flowed into a small unnamed creek and marsh. Beaver dams trapped most of the released crude.

According to an agreed statement of facts, both leaks were caused by internal corrosion within the pipeline which was constructed in 1985. 

Journey Energy’s operations, located entirely in central and southern Alberta, include horizontal and multi-fracture drilling, and storage of oil and other petroleum products.

Journey Energy operates approximately 1,100 active oil and gas wells, and around 2,000 kilometres of gathering pipeline systems. 

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