We are stewards of the land in our care, from a project‘s planning stage through to the asset‘s retirement. Potential impacts are identified so they can be avoided, minimized or mitigated, and the land is ultimately remediated and reclaimed.
Husky manages the location of our construction and development activities to maintain healthy, functioning ecosystems, and the wildlife and habitat they support. Wildlife and culturally sensitive areas are identified with input from local Indigenous communities using traditional land use studies, and by desktop analysis, which is confirmed through field surveys. This reduces our impact to ecologically and culturally-sensitive areas. The desktop analysis helps avoid features such as mineral licks, raptor nests and active dens. Our planning also considers sensitive wildlife areas such as amphibian ranges, riparian complexes and known rare plant colonies.
These steps reduce the impact to wildlife movement, preventing them from being displaced to less suitable habitat and maintains vegetation cover, which is important for safety and temperature regulation.
We time our activities, including vegetation clearance and ground preparation, to reduce the risk of disturbing an area during sensitive periods for wildlife, including migratory and breeding windows. If activities are conducted at these times, mitigation measures such as changes to the construction schedule, nest surveys and setback distances from active nests are implemented.
Our workers observe and record the movements of local wildlife to better understand habitat use and to be able to assess any impact from operations so that mitigation measures can be put in place. In some areas, regional wildlife biodiversity monitoring programs observe trends, tracking the presence and movement of animals using wildlife cameras, winter tracking studies, point counts and nest surveys.
We manage surface water on lease, including the use of containment systems to prevent soil erosion and to help prevent a release from migrating off-site. Vegetation control inhibits the spread of weeds and minimizes fire hazards. Husky‘s waste tracking system monitors and verifies the type and volume of waste generated, how it is handled and how it is disposed of, treated or recycled.
To accelerate the reclamation timetable, work is undertaken on lands no longer required for operations, even if the project is ongoing. Progressive reclamation allows for work to begin sooner to return land to its pre-disturbance condition and reduce maintenance costs.
End of Life and Asset Retirement
We prioritize our inventory of inactive assets to determine which have future production potential and which should be retired.
This includes pipelines associated with inactive wells or lines with no flow, which are identified, assessed for future potential and prioritized for abandonment. In 2017, 1,077 pipelines were abandoned in Western Canada.
The process of retiring a well begins with properly abandoning both the downhole and surface components. Husky‘s long-term, proactive abandonment program works towards the timely and effective retirement of inactive sites that have no future potential. Candidates for abandonment are ranked and grouped by geography so that resources are used more efficiently.
Land on the site is reclaimed so it can support ecological functions and land use similar to those that existed before any disturbance. This could include addressing potential contamination, re-contouring sites, replacing soil layers and re-establishing appropriate vegetation.
This process takes approximately three to five years to complete, from initial re-contouring to verification the site meets regulatory criteria. All reclaimed sites are submitted for regulatory approval and review by the land owner and/or occupant. We have achieved an average 99 percent approval rate on our submissions. Over the past six years Husky has certified 1,658 sites and associated facilities , such as access roads and log decks, reclaiming almost 5,500 acres of land.
Asset retirement obligations and their status are tracked in Husky‘s Environmental Performance Reporting System. They are calculated and disclosed on a quarterly basis, complying with financial reporting regulations. This allows us to better estimate our obligations and account for appropriate financial resources,related to abandonment, reclamation and remediation activities.
In 2017 the focus continued to be on executing condensed, more efficient programs, while also addressing high priority sites. Husky‘s divestment of assets, including asset retirement obligations, are managed in compliance with the energy regulators‘ liability management ratings. Husky contributes to the industry‘s orphan well fund.
North Saskatchewan River Monitoring and Assessment
In 2017 we completed our incident investigation into the 2016 pipeline incident that affected the North Saskatchewan River and had an associated impact on communities and First Nations downstream, and undertook a review of our response.
We have taken full responsibility for the incident and are using what we learned from the investigation to further improve our operations and reduce the likelihood of another incident. Our spill preparedness and response plan programs, for example, will have enhanced containment and recovery control tactics and wildlife management strategies. We are sharing what we‘ve learned throughout our organization, as well as with industry peers and regulators.
Working with the Saskatchewan Water Security Agency, the Saskatchewan Ministry of the Environment, Environment and Climate Change Canada and third-party experts, we have undertaken ongoing monitoring to determine the impact to the river. More than 5,600 water samples and 1,600 sediment samples have been collected for review since July 2016.
The 2017 monitoring detected no surface water exceedances of regulatory criteria attributed to the incident. A targeted sediment sampling program was developed in 2017 to determine whether product from the incident remained along the river. Between the point of entry and the point 16 kilometres downstream, trace levels of product from the incident were found in 25 percent of the samples. No measurable product from the incident was found in sediment samples taken downstream of the 16-kilometre point.
The regulator lifted the “do not consume” fish advisory in May 2017 after reviewing the results of testing and analysis on fish tissue, including a human health risk assessment. Results of fish and benthic population and community assessments conducted in 2016 and 2017 will be presented to regulators and a third-party reviewer commissioned by the Saskatchewan First Nations Natural Resources Centre of Excellence.
In 2017, 960 kilometres of North Saskatchewan River shoreline was assessed using dogs specially trained to detect trace levels of product from the incident. The program was completed in October 2017, with all shoreline meeting specific cleanup criteria developed by provincial and federal regulators.