ALBERTA

Apache Corp. To Face 5 More Charges Over Pipeline Safety: Alberta Energy Regulator

01/19/2016 11:43 EST | Updated 01/19/2016 11:59 EST
Spencer Platt via Getty Images
MENTONE, TX - FEBRUARY 05: The Patterson 298 natural gas fueled drilling rig drills on land in the Permian Basin that is owned by Apache Corporation on February 5, 2015 in Mentone, Texas.The rig, which is only 21 days old, is the first drilling rig in Texas that is 100-percent fueled by natural gas. As crude oil prices have fallen nearly 60 percent globally, many American communities that became dependent on oil revenue are preparing for hard times. Texas, which benefited from hydraulic fracturing and the shale drilling revolution, tripled its production of oil in the last five years. The Texan economy saw hundreds of billions of dollars come into the state before the global plunge in prices. Across the state drilling budgets are being slashed and companies are notifying workers of upcoming layoffs. According to federal labor statistics, around 300,000 people work in the Texas oil and gas industry, 50 percent more than four years ago. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

CALGARY — More charges have been laid against Apache Corp. over the safety of its pipelines in Alberta.

The Alberta Energy Regulator said Monday that the U.S. company could be slapped with a penalty of up to $2.5 million for a spill in northwestern Alberta two years ago.

In that incident, about 1.9 million litres of contaminated water spilled about 40 kilometres northwest of Whitecourt, Alta., affecting a nearby creek.

Apache has been charged on five counts under the Pipeline Act and the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act. The first court appearance on the issue is scheduled for Feb. 9 in Whitecourt.

The regulator says this is the third action against Apache in seven months.

Zama City spill

In October, Apache was charged on seven counts for a 2013 spill near Zama City, Alta. The first appearance on that matter was scheduled for last month in High Level Provincial Court and the case is still ongoing.

An AER spokesman said at the time that Apache faced charges of up to $3.1 million for the Zama incident, during which a pipeline spilled 1.8 million litres of a mixture of water, salt, oil and minerals onto more than 3.8 hectares of land.

In July, the AER fined Apache the maximum administrative penalty of $16,500 and issued four orders to improve pipeline safety.

Apache spokesman Paul Wyke declined to comment on matters before the courts.

"Apache takes its environmental responsibility very seriously,'' he said in an emailed statement.

"Pipeline integrity on our gathering systems is a critical component of meeting that responsibility and Apache has a robust pipeline integrity management system in place to mitigate the risk of future pipeline incidents.''

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