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Apache pleads guilty after two pipeline failures

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Calgary, Alberta (Oct 04, 2016)…

Apache Canada Ltd. pleaded guilty on September 30, 2016, to two counts of failing to operate its pipelines in accordance with provincial rules and requirements.

On October 25, 2013, Apache reported a pipeline release of 1813 cubic metres of produced water affecting about 3.8 hectares of public land near Zama City. On January 21, 2014, an additional pipeline failure resulted in the release of 1978 cubic metres of produced water, a portion of which entered an unnamed creek 40 kilometres northwest of Whitecourt.

"Industry performance is critical to ensure these kinds of incidents do not occur," said Alberta Energy Regulator president and CEO Jim Ellis. “Albertans expect industry to respond quickly and contain spills of any size. When our investigations indicate that any company has not met regulatory requirements, we use our enforcement tools to assure compliance and, in some cases, we pursue enforcement action through the courts.”

The court ordered Apache to pay a total of $350 000 in penalties; $160 000 for the Zama City release and $190 000 for the release northwest of Whitecourt. A portion of the penalties ($305 077.50) will be used for a creative sentencing project in which Alberta Innovates - Technology Futures will look to enhance the science of remediating salt-affected soil. Creative sentencing provides the court with a range of options to address the harm caused by an offence and to prevent future offences. The remaining $44 922.50 is a court-ordered fine.

The AER is committed to working with energy companies to apply lessons learned from this incident and the subsequent investigation to improve regulatory performance across the industry. Information about the incidents, AER’s investigations, and the enforcement issued is available on the AER’s Compliance Dashboard.

The Alberta Energy Regulator ensures the safe, efficient, orderly, and environmentally responsible development of hydrocarbon resources over their entire life cycle. This includes allocating and conserving water resources, managing public lands, and protecting the environment while providing economic benefits for all Albertans.

Agreed Statement of Facts – Zama City release

Sentencing Order – Zama City release

Agreed Statement of Facts – Whitecourt release

Sentencing Order – Whitecourt release

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For more information, please contact:

Cara Tobin, AER Public Affairs
Media line: 1-855-474-6356