Husky Energy Inc. hopes to begin construction this fall on three new pipelines, including a larger replacement for a pipeline that in 2016 ruptured and spilled heavy oil and diluent into the North Saskatchewan River near Maidstone.

The $130 million project is expected to take 10 to 12 months to complete, Mel Duvall, a company spokesman, said in an interview.

The 20-inch crude oil pipeline (up from 16-inches) will transport oil 52 kilometres from Husky’s thermal projects to its plant in Lloydminster, while the eight-inch condensate line will move diluent to the thermal sites. A shorter water line will bring in water from the North Saskatchewan River.

Duvall said the larger pipeline is needed to accommodate the growth in thermal production in Saskatchewan with six 10,000 bbl/d thermal plants planned over the next few years.

Rush Lake 2 will be coming on production later this year while Dee Valley, Spruce Lake North and Spruce Lake Central also are under construction. Husky will be holding open houses later this month for two new thermal projects that have already been announced, West Hazel and Spruce Lake East.

Following the pipeline rupture, Husky conducted a thorough investigation and when it repaired the original pipeline it put in a number of improvements, such as inline fibre optics and stronger steel and is applying what it learned to the new line. For example, it will have fibre optics running the length of the line to detect leaks (DOB, Nov. 27, 2017).

The company also is changing the route where the pipeline had crossed the river based on the results of the investigation, which determined that the pipeline break was due to mechanical cracking in a buckle in the pipeline caused by ground movement on the slope that occurred over many years.

Rather than following the slope of the river valley, Husky contractors will bore from “hilltop to hilltop,” taking the slope out of the equation, he said.

About 1,400 bbls of oil blended with distillates spilled from the ruptured pipeline in the July 20, 2016, incident. It was estimated that roughly 60 per cent was contained or recovered on land prior to the point of entry into the river.