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Shell’s bid for two new pipelines rejected

By Kelly Cryderman, Calgary Herald March 10, 2011

In a rare move, the province’s energy regulator has rejected Shell Canada’s application for two new pipelines at the company’s Waterton field site in southwestern Alberta.

But the Energy Resources Conservation Board ruled late Wednesday that Shell Canada will be allowed to drill a new sour gas well in the area and add a fuel-gas compressor.

The board added that given the way that the company has operated its existing infrastructure in the area 20 kilometres west of Pincher Creek, it has not demonstrated that it has followed its own procedures.

In the hearing last fall that led to this decision, Shell acknowledged a sour gas leak in November 2007 eroded the trust of residents near the small community of Beaver Mines. Several residents in the area were evacuated as a result of the release, and others were required to seek shelter in their homes.

On Wednesday, the board said it agrees “that the operational procedures and pipeline technologies proposed by Shell may work for corrosion mitigation.”

However, “these considerations have been outweighed by examples of its poor operating practices, such as improperly secured open excavations, odour complaints, pipeline and associated equipment failures, spills, poor reclamation efforts, and weed growth at Shell’s facilities.”

The board noted Shell’s proposed project has received a number of objections from landowners, recreational users and others stating concerns about public safety, the environment and the company’s operational history.

Bob Curran, a spokesman for the board, said Shell is making operational changes and can continue to operate the existing system safely. But at this point, there will be no approval for pipeline expansion.

Jonathan Moser, a company spokesman, said Wednesday it was too early to comment on the decision.

Shell Canada had already tried to get permission for the project but was denied in 2008.

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This article is likely to be of special interest to Donna Getz. See article below.
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