Image courtesy of Ryan McFarland/Flickr.

Plains Midstream Pipeline Canada was ordered to undergo a third-party audit by Canada’s National Energy Board (NEB) Thursday following two Alberta pipeline leaks during the last three years.

The audit will cover all of the company’s pipeline operations in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario.

The company must submit the results of the audit by the end of the year.

Plains Midstream Pipeline Canada, a subsidiary of Houston-based Plains All American Pipeline, must also supply the NEB with information about its efforts to meet safety requirements and attend quarterly progress report meetings with the regulator.

The NEB has requested information regarding immediate safety critical tasks, the operational controls used to mitigate hazards and risks and the company’s safety review and maintenance process.

The order is “a direct result of Plains’ failure to correct non-compliant findings during the 2010 management and protection audit corrective action plan and continued deficiencies throughout the company’s safety management and environmental protection programs,” the NEB said.

The regulator has prescribed a two-phased approach to the audit.

The first phase of the audit will examine Plains’ management system and environmental protection program, with a final audit report required on or before December 31, 2015.

The second phase will focus on the company’s integrity management program, with a final response to the audit report required on or before December 31, 2016.

There have been two major leaks at Plains operated pipelines in Alberta since 2011.

In April 2011, the company’s Rainbow pipeline near Peace River spilled about 37,000 barrels of oil.

The following year a leak at the Rangeland pipeline released about 3,800 barrels of crude near Sundre.

An NEB spokesman told Reuters the audit order is significant but not without precedence.

“We are taking the view that the company needs to take the regulatory system in Canada seriously. We want to see an increase in safety and environmental protection as part of their culture and as part of their frontline operations,” an NEB spokesman said.

After the audit is complete the NEB will review the results and impose any fines or regulatory actions it deems necessary.

Plains has not commented on the order.


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