ConocoPhillips has been issued with an environmental protection order after a pipeline leaked nearly 2,400 barrels of condensate, an ultra-light form of oil, within an endangered caribou and grizzly bear range in west-central Alberta.
The Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) issued an environmental protection order to the company, which shut down and isolated the pipeline.
The company said it is investigating the cause of the spill.
It is the largest hydrocarbon leak from a pipeline in Alberta since Nexen spilled 31,500 barrels of bitumen emulsion in July 2015, according to the regulator’s website.
Last month Apache Canada spilled 3,800 barrels of produced water near Whitecourt, Alberta.
The order directs the company to immediately contain the release and prevent it from spreading, identify anyone who may be affected by the release and make sure they are notified and control access to the site
ConocoPhillips has also been ordered to collect water and soil samples from the site for analysis, develop a wildlife mitigation plan and detailed delineation and remediation plan, develop daily public reports and publish them to the Conoco website, and submit a final report to the AER.
The oil giant first reported the leaking of condensate from a 7.25-kilometre (4.5-mile) pipeline near its Resthaven gas plant on June 9.
The spill is around 65 km northeast of Grand Cache, Alberta, and is within the Little Smoky Caribou Range, according to the AER. A key wildlife and biodiversity zone is 1km (northwest of the site, while a core grizzly bear zone is 5km south.
The AER said there was a dead patch of vegetation near the pipeline and a visible sheen on Webb Creek 300 meters (328 yards) away, which stretched for approximately 4.5km upstream and downstream of a beaver pond.
“An investigation is underway. Once it is complete, we will publish its findings,” said an AER spokesperson.
ConocoPhillips has erected a boom, deployed soaker pads to contain the condensate spill and activated its emergency response plan. The company said 150 people were sent at the site.
The Simonette River lies 2 km (1.2 miles) downstream of the beaver pond and the AER said although it had not observed any visible sheen, testing showed slightly elevated hydrocarbon levels in the water.
“We will conduct a full investigation into the cause of the incident when we’ve brought it to a safe conclusion and participate fully in the AER investigation,” ConocoPhillips said in a statement.