Husky Energy’s progress from downturn clouded by pipeline spill

Up to 250,000 litres leaked from a pipeline into the North Saskatchewan River.

CALGARY — Husky Energy Inc. says it made financial progress in the second quarter, but the positive news is being offset by a pipeline leak that has spilled thousands of litres of oil and other material into the North Saskatchewan River.

The Calgary-based company didn’t provide an update on the July 21 spill with its second-quarter financial report this morning.

Husky’s second quarter included a $196 million loss, which was equal to 20 cents per share. That’s less than half of last year’s second-quarter loss, which was $458 million or 47 cents per share.

Husky says asset sales that are nearing completion will allow it to reduce its debt to $4.5 billion from $7 billion, and put it in a stronger financial position.

However, the company has yet to announce the impact of the spill of crude and diluent – a lighter hydrocarbon that’s added to ease the flow – from a line that runs from Husky’s heavy oil operations to its Lloydminster facilities on the Alberta-Saskatchewan boundary.

Oil from the pipeline spilled into the North Saskatchewan River upstream from Maidstone, Sask.

Ralph Bock of the Environment Ministry said Husky has told government officials between 200,000 and 250,000 litres spilled.

“We’ve got containment of the spill at the release site, which is upstream, so there is no more product being released to the river,” he said.

“Downstream at the Paynton Ferry, which is a ferry crossing on the North Saskatchewan, about 40 kilometres from the release site, Husky and their team have been really diligent and got booms across the North Saskatchewan to capture anything that’s coming downstream.”

Husky said it shut down the line and was working closely with neighbours and municipalities.

Company spokesman Mel Duvall said the line runs from Husky’s heavy oil operations to its facilities in Lloydminster and carries oil mixed with a diluent, which is a lighter hydrocarbon that’s added to ease the flow.

The province said an environmental protection officer had been dispatched to the site. It also said Husky, with co-operation from the province, was notifying river users downstream of the spill.

In North Battleford, which draws its water supply from the North Saskatchewan River downstream from the spill, city officials said they had been informed and were taking precautions.

Tammy MacCormack, the city’s environment manager, said it was unknown how long it would take for the flow to reach North Battleford. But water samples were being done, she said, and supply intakes were to be shut if the oil spill reached the city.

“Our plan is to be shut down when it goes by,” said MacCormack. “We will be watching the water.”

Bock said officials from the Water Security Agency will take samples from the river past the boom before any water intakes to monitor hydrocarbons in the river.

“Right now we’re focusing on let’s just the minimize the footprint of this and we’ll do our damage assessments once we’re sure we’re not going to be causing any more damage.”

News from © Canadian Press Enterprises Inc. 2016

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