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Alberta Index: ENVIRONMENT: EUB investigating gas leaks at Shell facilities near Fort Saskatchewan, Pincher Creek

(Alberta Index, November 20, Tuesday) — The Alberta Energy and Utilities Board (EUB) is investigating two incidents of sour gas release involving Shell Canada facilities near Fort Saskatchewan and Pincher Creek yesterday. No injuries were reported.

A fire accompanied the gas release from a portion of the Shell Canada Scotford Upgrader plant near Fort Saskatchewan, forcing the evacuation of a number of workers. EUB said the gas comprised mostly hydrogen, some light hydrocarbons and 6.5 per cent hydrogen sulphide leaked from within the plant’s residue hydroconversion unit.

While the release has been isolated, the EUB said it is continuing to conduct ambient air quality monitoring in the area.

The Scotford upgrader was the site of two separate sour gas incidents in September 2006. Following investigations, the EUB directed Shell to schedule an exercise to test a new automated call-out system and provide a report to the EUB upon completion; conduct an emergency response plan exercise, and; provide a report to the EUB when updated resident information for 2007 was completed to ensure all members of the public are fully informed of the process of how to shelter during an incident.

The same day, sour gas leaked from a Shell Canada pipeline near the community of Beaver Mines, about 20 km west of Pincher Creek. The EUB said the leak has been isolated and the line is being depressurized so it can be repaired.

Several residents have either been evacuated or advised to remain in their homes as a precautionary measure within an approximately five km radius of the incident.

EUB said it has notified the relevant government agencies, and has stationed its staff and air monitoring equipment onsite.

It added that pipeline failures in Alberta are rare. The province had a record-low pipeline failure rate of 2.2 failures per 1000 km of pipeline in 2006, down 30% since 2000 (when there were 3.3 per 1000 km). There are 392,000 km of EUB-regulated pipeline in the province.

There are over 6,000 sour gas wells, approximately 250 sour gas processing plants and over 18,000 km of operating sour gas pipelines in Alberta. In 2006, the province produced 1.6 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, with more than a third of it sour. and its sister websites,,,,, and are all owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia article.

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