Plains Midstream Canada is out of the regulatory penalty box after passing an audit imposed by the Alberta Energy Regulator following several polluting leaks from its petroleum pipelines.
But the regulator says it will continue to keep a close eye on the activities of the Calgary-based subsidiary of Plains All American Pipeline, L.P., of Houston.
In July 2013, the AER issued a report that criticized the company, imposed the audit and placed it in a kind of red tape purgatory — every decision, no matter how minor, would have to be approved by AER chief executive Jim Ellis.
The release of the audit means that restriction, called “global refer,” has been removed. The company still faces additional restrictions and reporting requirements compared to its peers.
The sanctions against Plains Midstream came after it had been issued 19 notices between January 2011 and July 2013.
In April 2011, Plains Midstream’s Rainbow pipeline leaked 28,000 barrels of oil northeast of Peace River, the largest spill in Alberta in at least three decades.
A year later, a section of its Rangeland pipeline failed and dumped about 3,000 barrels of oil into the Red Deer River system near Innisfail.
In June of 2013, Plains Midstream reported that about 950 barrels of natural gas liquids and byproducts spilled from its Kemp pipeline in northwestern Alberta.
In June, Plains Midstream was fined $1.3 million for environmental offences for the Rangeland and Rainbow spills.
The fines in the Red Deer River spill included $450,000 for breach of provincial environmental law by failing to report the incident, and $400,000 for breach of the Federal Fisheries Act for fish kill in the river.
For the larger April 2011 spill near the Lubicon Cree village of Little Buffalo, the company was fined $450,000 for a single offence. It pleaded guilty to violating the provincial Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act by failing to take steps to stop a pipeline leak.
The company has spent $4 million to enhance its monitoring system and claims to have shelled out $40 million to clean up the Red Deer River spill and another $70 million on the spill near Little Buffalo.
(Source: Calgary Herald)