A pipeline in western Canada has leaked over 200,000 litres (52,834 gallons) of oil in an aboriginal community, it has been confirmed.

The breach, which took place in Stoughton in Saskatchewan province on Friday (20 January), took officials three days to confirm, drawing criticism from environmental groups.

News of the spill came as US President Donald Trump approved the Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipelines, the latter of which will run through western Canada.

Though the energy firms involved are not the same, the spill is likely to be used by activists opposing the pipelines as a reminder of the environmental hazards involved.

Doug McKnight, assistant deputy minister in the Ministry of the Economy in Canada, said it was not immediately clear how the leak occurred or which company that owned the underground pipeline was responsible.

"There are a number of pipes in the area," he told Reuters reporters. "Until we excavate it, we won't know with 100% certainty which pipe."

Tundra Energy Marketing Inc, which has a line adjacent to the spill, is leading clean-up efforts.

"The cleanup is paid for by the [polluting] company," McKnight added. "Obviously, if it turns out not to be their [Tundra's] pipe, there will have to be some agreements in terms of some cost-sharing."

The spill took place on the Ocean Man First Nation reserve, inhabited by the Assiniboine and Anishinabe tribes.

Greenpeace has blasted the Saskatchewan government for the apparent secrecy around the leak.

Keith Stewart, head of Greenpeace Canada's climate and energy campaign, said: "First the government waits three days to announce it, then the company will neither confirm nor deny that it's their oil.

"More worrisome, however, is that once again pipeline spill detection technology and systems failed, leaving it up to community members to smell and see the oil before action is taken."

Despite the spill, Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall welcomed Trump's announcement on the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, saying it was a "a win for both our countries' energy industries, for energy consumers and for energy security".

 Stoughton, Saskatchewan
The site of an oil spill in Stoughton, Saskatchewan Reuters/Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada