This map locates Saskatchewan oil and gas incidents between Jan. 1, 2000 and Dec. 31, 2018, as reported to three jurisdictions: the Saskatchewan Ministry of Energy and Resources; the Saskatchewan Ministry of Environment; and the Transportation Safety Board of Canada. Each mapped record notes the reporting jurisdiction.
Sask Energy and Resources: Is responsible for licensing oil and gas facilities, and receives the bulk of spill reports, under the Oil and Gas Conservation Act. This includes well sites and intra-provincial pipelines and flowlines that do not cross into other provinces. In most cases, the reporting threshold is over 2 m3 (200 litres) for fluids and over 30,000 m3 for gas; however, the incident reporting requirements vary according to substance, proximity to dwellings, etc. All thresholds are listed in a table here: http://publications.gov.sk.ca/documents/310/85293-Directive%20PNG014%20-%20Incident%20Reporting%20Requirements%20v.3.pdf
Sask Environment: Is the reporting agency for refineries and some offsite and transportation-related spills outside Energy and Resources’ jurisdiction. Spills are registered in accordance with the Environmental Management and Protection Act (EMPA), which has multiple reporting guidelines and a general threshold of anything “that may cause or is causing an adverse effect.” (see http://publications.gov.sk.ca/documents/66/86317-English.pdf)
Transportation Safety Board of Canada: Is responsible for interprovincial pipelines. The reporting threshold is any breach or accident; as these are major lines, the spills tend to be in the millions and sometimes billions of litres. TSB also receives reports of rail accidents, and specifies in investigation reports when the accidents involve oil industry transport. Although the federally regulated spills are large, they are few in number. The map includes 2 pipeline spills and 2 industry-related rail accidents – a spill of crude oil from tank cars picked up at Lashburn, Sask. and a petroleum distillate spill and fire near Claire that forced the evacuation of 50 homes.
Ministry of Energy and Resources
Source: Saskatchewan Upstream Oil and Gas IRIS Incident Report (Excel download). A listing of all reported spills, updated every Wednesday.
All spills are mapped as reported with the following exceptions:
- Volumes have been converted from cubic metres to litres, the measure used in most media reports, including Price of Oil reports, because it is a measure more readily understood by the public. The conversion was done by multiplying the volumes in cubic metres by 1,000, thus obtaining the amount in litres.
- The map includes key information of public interest: Where, when, what, the amount spilled, as well as the amount recovered and additional notes. Extraneous information not of immediate public interest, such as internal business ID numbers, the receiving field office, and report due dates, was excluded.
- The column labelled H2S was excluded because as of December 2018, the Ministry of Energy and Resources did not record or measure H2S, or provide companies with an option to enter H2S amounts, and therefore every entry in that column is listed ‘0.’ Because this would convey the wrong impression to the public that H2S is never spilled, the data was excluded and replaced with the following explanation in the map description: “As H2S (sour gas) measurements were not collected and submitted to the Energy and Resources database until 2019, this information is not presented in the map, though such incidents did occur.”
- Locations were converted from Legal Subdivision to GPS using lsdfinder.com, a batch online converter. In addition to providing a GPS location, lsdfinder.com provides the name of the rural municipality or the nearest village or town. This information was added to the data as an aid to help the public understand more easily where the spills occurred.
- In cases where the LSD was missing in the IRIS spreadsheet, the detailed incident reports were pulled from the government’s internal IRIS database, accessible to university researchers, to discover the correct location, and this was added to the data.
Students at the University of Regina did the first draft run of data, to test how the map would function. The data was then re-run by supervising faculty, checked, uploaded, screened for missing table information, with any errors corrected and checked again. As will data from the Ministry of Environment was added. All data was screened in Excel to ensure there are no accidental duplication of entries.
Ministry of Environment
Source: Saskatchewan Spills at http://environment.gov.sk.ca/saskspills/spills_srch.asp – All entries downloaded as an Excel table.
Data was extracted by visually examining each record for the keywords ‘crude oil,’ H2S,’ ‘effluent,’ ‘sour gas,’ ‘saltwater,’ ‘produced water,’ and ‘amines’ (a substance used in fracking). All refinery spills of any substance were also extracted. The list was then narrowed by eliminating any spills located at potash mines, uranium mines, pulp mills, airports, gas stations, machine shops and other sites that do not produce and refine oil. This resulted in a total of 546 spills identified as related to oil and gas industry extraction, transportation and refining since 1998, with 534 spills between 2000 and 2019 entered in the map.
Spill volumes were recorded in the Environment database with a variety of measures, such as barrels, litres, gallons and cubic metres. All volumes were uniformly converted to litres.
The Environment database recorded locations in a variety of ways, including LSD, GPS and place names, depending on the entry. All locations not already listed according to GPS were converted, using either the LSD or place name.
Transportation Safety Board
Pipeline incidents were searched using the keyword ‘Saskatchewan.’ The resulting reports were read, and information concerning spilled substances, volumes, locations, companies and dates was noted and added to the master ‘All spills’ Excel sheet.
Rail incidents were similarly searched and the reports examined. Only those accidents that could be specifically related to the oil and gas industry were included. This included a large crude oil spill near Paynton, and the rupture of two DOT 111 cars containing petroleum distillates, near Claire.
SELECTED FEATURE SPILLS
Because the map presents as a solid mass of spills that may leave readers feeling at sea, we decided to highlight some particularly notable spills for quick public viewing. This includes 31 selected spills identified by students in the years they were given to study in detail, as well as some of the spills flagged in Price of Oil reports.
The entries are set up in a more reader-friendly narrative style, with links to the official reports to learn more, and are marked in red. The qualities of a ‘notable’ spill varies – in some cases, they were selected by the volume spilled, in others by the amount of land impacted, or if it was in a particularly environmentally sensitive area.
UNRESOLVED RECORDS NOT MAPPED
Of the thousands of records, just 5 could not be resolved to a location through further research. Details are below.
- Cona Resources, 8,000-litre oil spill 9/19/2003, reported to Sask Ministry of Energy and Resources (MER). No land location was entered in the IRIS spreadsheet, and no detailed report was filed in IRIS or the Historic Spills Directory (pre-2014) to shed further light on this spill.
- A Pearl Energy spill, 5/30/2010 reported to Sask Energy and Resources. The LSD registered was invalid and could not be resolved. No detailed report describing the location could be found in IRIS or Historic Spills.
- A Torc spill 10/7/2015 reported to MER without a land location or volume of spill. The detailed report is still listed as ‘pending.’
- CP incident reported to MER 5/21/2013 with no details or land location given. All substance volume columns were entered as ‘O’
- Obsidian Energy incident 1/11/2013, reported to . LSD was invalid and could not be resolved. In any case, all substance volume columns were entered as ‘O.’
NOTE TO PUBLIC
The following map description is included in the public version of the map:
“This map shows oil and gas industry spills reported to the Saskatchewan Ministry of Energy and Resources, Sask Environment and the Transportation Safety Board of Canada from Jan. 1, 2000 to Dec. 31, 2018, a period that included the height of Saskatchewan’s oil boom. The data represents all spills reported to Sask Energy and Resources under the Oil and Gas Conservation Act, oil and gas industry-related spills reported to Sask Environment, and interprovincial pipeline and oil car spills reported to the TSB. GPS locations were converted from Legal Subdivision land descriptions; they therefore lie generally within the reported quarter-section, rather than at the precise spill point. Any errors in location ID, place name spelling, or other information items are errors of the reporting company or government inspector, for which the Price of Oil team bears no responsibility. As H2S (sour gas) measurements were not collected and submitted to the Energy and Resources database until 2019, this information is not presented in the map, though such incidents did occur.”