Strategic Oil and Gas’s request to keep spill confidential denied

A mix of methane, oil and water sprayed out of a well-head at an oil and gas operation in the N.W.T.’s Cameron Hills this summer. The Mackenzie Valley Land and Water Board has turned down a request to keep information about the spill confidential.

Mackenzie Valley Land and Water Board says spill should have been reported to communities

An oil and gas company's request to keep information about a spill confidential has been turned down.

Strategic Oil and Gas says the August 14 spill was minor and caused no environmental damage.

The Calgary-based company reported the spill at its Cameron Hills property to the 24-hour Spill Report Line, as required by law.

A company employee said a mix of methane, oil and water sprayed out of one of the well-heads.

The employee said it was brought under control within 40 minutes, and it only affected an area of 1,500 square metres.

The company said it didn't notify surrounding communities, such as Kakisa or Enterprise, because it didn't want to cause "unnecessary concern."

Under the terms of its water licence the company is also required to submit a follow-up report to the Mackenzie Valley Land and Water Board.

In an email to the board, Shelly Johnson, the company’s lead on regulatory and environmental affairs, says the spill was “contained on-lease, minor in nature, and cleaned up immediately.”

“To prevent unnecessary concern, Strategic decided not to notify the communities and for this reason, Strategic is requesting that this incident report remains confidential,” she writes.

In a letter last week, the board disagreed saying that, with only rare exceptions, all of the reports required under water licences are made public.

It said the company should have reported the spill to the communities because the land could be part of their traditional harvesting territory.

Strategic Oil and Gas’s Cameron Hills project currently has five natural gas wells and six oil wells feeding a pipeline to Alberta. Two shifts of four people manage operations.

No one at Strategic was available for an interview.