Alberta misses target in oilpatch regulatory violations by Darcy Henton, With files from Chris Varcoe, July 1, 2015, Calgary Herald
Regulatory non-compliance in the oilpatch has more than doubled since 2010, but Alberta Energy says that’s partly because it’s doing more inspections of poor performing industry operations. [Is the AER trying to look like a regulator because it’s before the courts?]
The percentage of regulatory violations has jumped to 4.4 per cent from 1.7 per cent five years ago, according to the ministry’s annual report released Tuesday. Its performance measure target is three per cent. [Why isn’t the target zero per cent?]
The report says the Alberta Energy Regulator, the oilpatch watchdog, discovered 610 high-risk violations, including 233 involving pipelines, during the 13,815 inspections and investigations conducted last year. That compares to 420 high-risk violations in 2013, and 447 in 2012.
A high-risk violation occurs when the contravention of the regulation has the potential of having “a significant impact” on the public or the environment, Alberta Energy says.
PC Leader Ric McIver expressed concern about the increasing level of regulatory non-compliance, saying it sounds like an issue new Energy Minister Marg McCuaig-Boyd may want to examine.
“In general terms I think safety matters; the environment matters, full stop,” he said. [The environment and non-compliance by the oil patch never mattered to the PC’s before. Why the dramatic change of heart?]
“I don’t think the public should panic … but if, indeed, non-compliance has increased by three per cent, then it’s incumbent upon the minister to say: ‘Now that I have the information, it’s time to get it back to where it needs to be.’”
The report says several factors contributed to the increase in high-risk non-compliance, including a greater number of inspections, an increased focus on operators with known issues and a history of non-compliance, as well as an increased focus on operations in the Peace River area. [Why not also in the Fox Creek area, Blanket Frac Approval Experiment Extraordinaire?]
There was also an increase in pipeline inspections — “a discipline with the greatest amount of overall non-compliance among all inspection disciplines,” says the report. “Inspectors focus on higher-risk, higher-value inspections as determined by the field operations technical specialist in each inspection discipline,” says the report. “The selection of operations for inspection is based on internally defined risk criteria as well as external factors such as incidents and complaints.”
No one was available to comment from the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association or the Explorers and Producers Association of Canada. [Emphasis added]
[Question: When is past Encana VP Gerard Protti going to call for charges against Encana for fracing Rosebud’s drinking water aquifers, and contaminating area water wells with natural gas? And when is he going to call for repairs to the aquifers and restitution for the harms done to Rosebud residents?]