Canadian Natural Resources Updates on Incident at Development Area
OREANDA-NEWS. August 08, 2013. Canadian Natural Resources Limited (“Canadian Natural” or the “Company”) would like to provide an update to an incident at the Company’s Primrose development area in which bitumen emulsion was discovered at surface at four separate locations.
The discoveries were immediately reported to the Alberta Energy Regulator (“AER”) and concurrently crews were dispatched to initiate necessary action.
Each location has been secured and clean-up, recovery and reclamation activities are well underway. The bitumen emulsion does not pose a risk to health or human safety. The Company is working diligently with the AER and Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development to investigate and remediate the affected locations. Canadian Natural is committed to ensuring the clean-up and reclamation work is done right, while minimizing impacts to the environment. Canadian Natural is also taking proactive measures to prevent this type of incident in the future.
The four locations initially impacted at Primrose covered an area of 20.7 hectares. The bitumen emulsion seepage is now controlled to specific containment areas where it is effectively recovered as it reaches the surface.
As a result of the Company’s successful active clean-up efforts, approximately 6,300 barrels of bitumen emulsion has been collected to date, with the Company now focusing on a reduced impact area of 13.5 hectares. The rate of bitumen emulsion seepage in all four locations has dec
lined as expected and now totals less than 20 barrels per day. One affected location, which is now contained, is a 1.5 meter deep, non-fish bearing, shallow slough that does not flow in or interact with other water bodies. Canadian Natural is conducting groundwater monitoring activities in the vicinity of all locations and is undertaking aquatic and sediment sampling to monitor and mitigate any potential impacts.
The Company has implemented aerial and ground surveillance across its Primrose operations area and has not identified any additional bitumen emulsion seepages outside of the four identified locations. The ongoing efforts of over 120 employees and contractors on site will continue to reduce the impacts of these bitumen emulsion seepages until the locations are fully remediated.
Unfortunately some animal fatalities have occurred including 16 birds, 7 small mammals and 38 amphibians. Two beavers, two birds and two muskrats are currently being cared for prior to being returned to their natural environment. As part of the Company’s wildlife mitigation program, fencing and deterrents have been deployed in the area. Canadian Natural believes the cause of the bitumen emulsion seepage is mechanical failures of wellbores in the vicinity of the impacted locations. In over 30 years of using the current steaming and extraction method in the Primrose area, there have been few bitumen emulsion seepages to surface. This is due to the fact
that most potential wellbore failures are corrected before steaming.
In cases where potential wellbore failures are not repairable, steaming strategies can be modified, to prevent these types of incidents from occurring in the future. A complete review is ongoing and Canadian Natural has a specialized team focused on investigating wells in the impacted areas for any potential required remediation work.