Phew! Foul smells, biggest cause of complaints to OGC

Lynsey Kitching


Equipment failure is reported as being the most likely contributing factor in an Oil and Gas related incident for 2012, being reported in 47 percent of cases. This comes in about 15 percent higher than it was in 2011.

However, the number of safety incidents in 2012 was less than in 2011; 311 compared to 364.

When looking at safety reports, the events are categorized into degrees of severity from minor status, to a level one, two or three.

Some of the other main causes of safety incidents in 2011 include human error – 15 percent, geological causes – 18 percent and unknown causes for the incident were reported in 16 percent of cases. This means the cause of 16 safety incidents in 2011 is not known.

In 2012, the numbers were all a bit lower; human error – 11 percent, geological causes – 13 percent, and unknown causes came in at 11 percent.

Most of the incidents fell in the level one status, meaning, according to the Oil and Gas Commission (OGC) report, “Incident has moderate to major impact on permit holder only; no potential impacts to people, property or environment.”

In 2011 there were 42 of these events and in 2012 there were 33 reports.

The next step up is level two events, of which there were 10 reports in 2012. Level two incidents are outlined as, “Incident [that] may pose a risk to the public and/or environment.”

Though in 2012 there were 10, in 2011 there were 18. The highest degree of safety concerns is for the level three events, of which there were two in both 2011 and 2012. These events include a sour gas leak in 2011 and a fire in 2012.

The safety report also gives a little detail about what feedback the OGC is getting from the public in regards to oil and gas activity. The main complaint in both 2011 and 2012 is the odours created by the industry. In 2011 the OGC received 59 complaints about bad odours or 33.9 percent of the feedback was about foul odours.

In 2012 there were a little less but still the biggest concern for people. The OGC received communication from 51 people about this, or 36.4 percent of the communication base.

In 2012 other public comments were about, spills (five percent), noise (7.1 percent), flaring (7.1 percent), land concerns at 23.6 percent and other reasons (which are not outlined) consist of 20.7 percent of the reasons why the public has communicated with the OGC.