Canadian Mining Journal

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OIL SANDS: Canadian Natural ordered to drain lake, stop leak

ALBERTA – The Alberta government has ordered Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. (CNRL) of Calgary to drain a shallow lake near its Primrose in situ oil sands project that has been leaking bitumen for several months. The water is to be out of...



ALBERTA – The Alberta government has ordered Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. (CNRL) of Calgary to drain a shallow lake near its Primrose in situ oil sands project that has been leaking bitumen for several months. The water is to be out of the 1.5-metre deep pond before freeze-up so that permanent containment measures can be installed. The water will be returned to the lake in the spring

The Primrose project is located on the Cold Lake Air Weapons Range. CNRL uses steam assisted gravity drainage (SAGD) to pump bitumen to the surface. There were a total of four leaks discovered on the site. About 1.5 million litres of bitumen has been recovered from them, and remediation continues. The company said a mechanical failure of an old well was responsible for the seepage.

The Alberta environmental department is leading the investigation into the bitumen leaks. The provincial energy regulator is examining the cause of the seepage, and the federal government is looking at the impacts on wildlife. About 100 animals have died due to the seepage.

CNRL has a website at CNRL.com.


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