Saskatchewan's Ministry of Environment is leading a multi-agency response to clean up about 200,000 litres of oil — the volume equivalent of about two railcars' worth — that spilled into the North Saskatchewan River on Thursday. 

According to Husky Oil, which owns the pipeline, a leak spilled the heavy oil, which is mixed with a thinning chemical, into the river near Lloydminster, Sask.

The company said it shut the pipelines, which are part of its Saskatchewan gathering system, to halt the release of oil.

Wes Kotyk, executive director of the ministry's Environmental Protection Branch, told reporters at a news conference on Friday morning that about 43,000 litres had been cleaned up so far. 

Husky Energy

Husky Energy said it shut the pipelines, which are part of its Saskatchewan gathering system, to halt the release of oil. (Husky Energy)

He said Husky Oil had stopped the leak and was setting up a containment boom ahead of the oil plume to stop it spreading further. 

"Once the plume has been contained and the immediate emergency activities are addressed, we will look into moving into the longer-term remediation and reclamation activities and move to the recovery phase of the response," he said. 

He said communities downstream of the spill had been notified and the spread of the plume was being monitored.

The city of North Battleford, which has a three-day supply of water in its reservoirs and water tower, has shut down its water intake plant. 

Premier Brad Wall spoke to reporters about the GTH land deals

Premier Brad Wall says pipelines are still the safest way of moving oil. (CBC)

At a news conference on Thursday, Premier Brad Wall told reporters that although pipelines were an "imperfect" method of moving oil, they were still a safer alternative than rail transportation. 

"The facts remain that if we're not moving it by a pipeline, it'll move, and it'll move on a rail," he said.

"And we know that rail, actually, is more susceptible to spills and the spills are often more intense." 

He said cleaning up the spill was the immediate priority. 

"Obviously this is not something anybody wants to see happen," said Wall.