Alberta regulators on Thursday charged Nexen Energy, a wholly owned subsidiary of China's CNOOC Ltd, for a pipeline spill in July 2015 at the company's Long Lake oil sands facility that leaked around 31 500 bbls of bitumen emulsion.
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The incident was one of the largest oil-related spills on North American soil.
The leak of bitumen emulsion, a mixture of bitumen, water and sand, affected an area of approximately 21 900 m2 (235 730 ft2) about 36 km (22 miles) south of the oilsands hub of Fort McMurray.
Alberta Energy Regulator staff have been gathering evidence over the past two years to determine the cause of the spill and whether Nexen complied with regulations. On the recommendation of the province's Crown Prosecution Service, the AER laid five charges under the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act and Public Lands Act."When we believe that the rules are not followed, we have a variety of tools, including laying charges that we can and do use in an attempt to ensure that potential offenders are held accountable," AER Chief Executive Jim Ellis said.
Nexen declined to comment beyond saying it had received the charges and would "consider" them.
The charges include releasing a substance in the environment that caused an adverse effect, failing to report the release of a substance as soon as possible, failing to take all reasonable measures to remediate and causing a disturbance to public land.
The maximum fine Nexen could face is CDN$3 million (US$2.31 million), according to the AER.
A spokesman for the regulator said it would not be able to release a full investigation report into the cause of the leak until the court case is settled.
Nexen's first court appearance is scheduled for 16 August in Fort McMurray provincial court.
Chinese state-owned oil company CNOOC bought Calgary-based Nexen in 2013 for CAN$15.1 billion, giving it control of the 60 000 bpd Long Lake site and billions of barrels of oil sands reserves.
Detailed charges are:
"Producing oil or gas in Alberta comes with a responsibility to follow all requirements to protect the public and environment," AER president and CEO Jim Ellis said in a news release Thursday.
"When we believe that the rules are not followed, we have a variety of tools, including laying charges that we can and do use in an attempt to ensure that potential offenders are held accountable."
Read the article online at: https://www.worldpipelines.com/regulations-and-standards/07072017/nexen-charged-for-2015-spill/