The Saskatchewan government is getting tougher on pipeline companies.
It follows an auditor’s report that suggested the government needs to provide greater oversight and stop allowing the companies to regulate themselves.
Some of the components of the new legislation include:
- Creation of a legal framework for phased-in licensing of more than 80,000 flowlines which are exempt in current licensing under the Act;
- Building an online pipeline licensing system using the Integrated Resource Information System (IRIS);
- Establishing new inspection, investigation and compliance audit powers for ministry staff;
- Updating and modernizing penalty provisions;
- Improvements regarding pipeline licensing, construction, operation and abandonment;
- Providing requirements for financial assurance from operators for pipelines that are in high-risk locations like water crossings;
- Setting up new obligations associated with environmental issues that might occur following pipeline abandonment.
Minister Dustin Duncan explained that it also means harsher penalties for those who don’t follow the rules.
“It raises the penalty provision from $50,000 per day up to a maximum of $500,000 per day so it significantly increases the ability for the province to levy a financial penalty,” Duncan said.
It also provides some assurances that a company operating a pipeline in Saskatchewan has the ability to pay for any clean-up.
Further measures may be introduced once the government has completed its investigation into the Husky oil spill this summer.
Husky’s investigation showed the break was “a sudden, one-time event in a section of the pipe that had buckled due to the force of ground movement.”
Over 225,000 litres of oil spilled into the North Saskatchewan River and affected the drinking water of 60,000 residents.