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Petronas fined $22,500 for spill

The British Columbia Energy Regulator has fined Petronas for a produced water spill on Feb 17, 2021

The British Columbia Energy Regulator has fined Petronas for a produced water spill on Feb 17, 2021 at one of its former well facilities, with the company failing to exercise due diligence under the Energy Resource Activities Act.

The site appears to be in Hudson's Hope, near Beryl Prairie Rd and Altares Core Rd, when National Topographic System (NTS) coordinates are converted into latitude and longitude. 

The water spill was reported to the regulator by Petronas, when five cubic metres of produced water spilled, migrating off lease and onto Crown land. 

“Petronas is not required to show that it took all possible or imaginable steps to avoid the contravention. The standard is not one of perfection, but rather of a reasonable person in similar circumstances,” wrote Dax Bourke Executive Director, Compliance and Enforcement for the BC Energy Regulator in a Feb. 13 decision letter. 

Petronas did not act reasonably under the circumstance, concluded Bourke, failing to provided a a functioning heat trace for two months, following a generator malfunction on Dec. 11, 2020. 

“This malfunction resulted in the fluids in the pipeline riser to freeze and thaw during changing weather conditions. The freezing and thawing of fluids caused the flange studs to stretch creating a gap in the gasket, resulting in the release of sweet, produced water,” notes the letter. 

Petronas did deliver a portable generator to the facility at some time between the malfunction and incident, but indicated it was not installed or electrically connected at the time of the incident, so no heat trace was active. 

“In my view, it would be reasonable to expect that Petronas take further 5 steps to ensure timely electrical connection of the portable generator to establish working heat trace given the circumstances,” wrote Bourke. 

“Petronas has failed to satisfy me that it took all reasonable steps to prevent the contravention,” he added.

Petronas had four findings of contraventions, and twenty-two general orders when it was formerly named Progress Energy Canada Ltd, Bourke noted, but none of the previous contraventions resulted from a similar cause. 

However, there was no evidence of harm to others as a result of the spill, it was not deliberate, there was no evidence of economic benefit from it, and Petronas reported it promptly and began immediately cleaning up the spill, Bourke explained. 

A permit for the site has since been transferred to Canadian Natural Resources Limited, approved by the BC Energy Regulator on Nov. 4, 2021. 

You can read the full decision letter here: 

Administrative-Finding Petronas 2021-0026 13Feb2024 by Tom Summer on Scribd