Alberta Energy Regulator

Alberta Energy Regulator

October 19, 2015 15:24 ET

Charges Laid Regarding October 2013 Apache Zama City Pipeline Spill

CALGARY, ALBERTA--(Marketwired - Oct. 19, 2015) - Apache Canada Ltd. has been charged with seven counts for contraventions of the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act, the Public Lands Act, and the Pipeline Act.

The charges follow an October 25, 2013 pipeline spill of approximately 1,800 m3 of produced water impacting an area of over 3.8 ha 33 km northwest of Zama City, Alberta. First appearance is scheduled for December 7, 2015, in High Level Provincial Court.

On July 7, 2015, the AER directed Apache to take steps necessary to address issues with its internal pipeline management system. The AER issued the maximum administrative penalty of $16,500 and four orders. The AER news release on this matter can be found here: http://www.aer.ca/about-aer/media-centre/news-releases/news-release-2015-07-07.

The AER continues its investigation into one additional Apache incident, which may be subject to further enforcement action. Failure to adhere to all terms of the AER orders will result in further enforcement.

The Alberta Energy Regulator ensures the safe, efficient, orderly, and environmentally responsible development of hydrocarbon resources over their entire life cycle. This includes allocating and conserving water resources, managing public lands, and protecting the environment while providing economic benefits for all Albertans.

FOR BROADCAST USE: In addition, Apache Canada Ltd. has been charged with seven counts for contraventions of the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act, Public Lands Act, and the Pipeline Act after one of the company's pipelines spilled approximately 1,800 m3 of produced water impacting an area of over 3.8 ha approximately 33 km northeast of Zama City, Alberta on October 25, 2013.

Backgrounder: Apache pipeline spill and AER investigation process explained

Charges have been laid against Apache Canada Ltd. for contraventions of the legislated acts under the AER's jurisdiction following an incident that occurred in October 2013.

Apache Zama City pipeline failure

  • On October 25, 2013, Apache Canada Ltd. notified the AER of a pipeline spill releasing approximately 1,800 m3 into the environment. The spill affected just over 3.8 ha of land.
  • Following a number of pipeline incidents between June 2013 and October 2014, the AER conducted a comprehensive investigation into Apache Canada Ltd.'s operations and identified numerous incidents of non-compliance.
  • On July 2, 2015, the AER forwarded its investigation findings to the Alberta Crown Prosecution Service for a recommendation to prosecute. Based on their recommendation the following charges have been laid against Apache Canada Ltd.:
    • Four counts for contraventions of section 227(j) of the EPEA for; releasing a substance to the environment that caused or had the potential to cause a significant adverse effect (contrary to section 109(2) of EPEA), for failing to immediately report the release (contrary to section 110(1) of EPEA) and for failing to take reasonable measures to remediate (contrary to section 112(1)(a)(i) and 112(1)(a)(ii)).
    • One count for a contravention of section 56(1) of the PLA for causing damage to public land which is contrary to section 54(1)(e) of the act.
    • Two counts for contraventions of section 52(2)(a) of the Pipeline Act for failing to provide adequate support for aboveground piping contrary to section 9(3) of the Pipeline Rules.

AER investigation process

  • The AER conducts investigations to determine the root cause of energy industry incidents, whether an energy company followed the rules, and opportunities to improve AER requirements or industry practices.
  • The goal of an investigation is to collect information to confirm whether an incident has occurred and to identify the energy operator responsible for the incident.
  • Companies that are allowed to develop Alberta's oil and gas resources must follow all AER requirements. If they do not, there are strong consequences.
  • When a company does not follow AER requirements, the AER takes steps to stop the noncompliant activity, restore the environment, and if necessary, apply enforcement action against the responsible party.
  • Enforcement tools include: more frequent AER inspections, more stringent planning requirements, enforcement orders, shutting down operations, levying of administrative penalties, and prosecution.
  • To ensure fairness and integrity with the enforcement process, Investigation Summary Reports are not posted to the AER's Compliance Dashboard until the enforcement action has been carried out.
  • In the event that the AER recommends prosecution in the courts for a noncompliance, the file is provided to Alberta Justice who determines whether or not prosecution is justified.
  • In order to ensure legal fairness it is important to allow the judicial process to operate independently and only consider the findings of the investigation.
  • If investigation findings are released to the public prior to completing the enforcement action, the public could form opinions that could potentially influence one side of the case or prejudge the outcome prior to the administrative or judicial decision.

Contact Information

  • Ryan Bartlett
    AER Public Affairs
    Phone: 403-297-3268
    E-mail: ryan.bartlett@aer.ca
    Media line: 1-855-474-6356