Nexen oil spill investigation taking longer than expected, documents show

CALGARY - The Alberta Energy Regulator wanted to find out what caused a major pipeline rupture last summer at Nexen ULC's Long Lake oilsands project by October, but its investigation is still ongoing months later, documents show.

See Full Article

Five million litres of emulsion - a mixture of bitumen, sand and water - spilled into muskeg at the oilsands project southeast of Fort McMurray, Alta., which was also the site of a deadly explosion earlier this month.

The target date for identifying the root cause of the spill was Oct. 15 of last year, according to AER incident updates provided to the federal Natural Resources department last July.

The documents were obtained by The Canadian Press through an access to information request.

However, the documents noted that any legal or enforcement action triggered by the investigation would likely extend the deadline.

An AER spokesman declined to comment on an investigation that is still underway or elaborate on what legal and enforcement action the report was referring to.

The documents set out a long list of questions that aim to answer why the pipeline failure occurred and why it wasn't detected earlier.

More specifically, the investigation is looking at:

  • The operating conditions at the time of the incident
  • Whether the leak detection system was active at the time
  • Evidence of "abnormal" operations from the control centre
  • Who was operating the pipeline and what training they may have received
  • Whether the pipeline was being operated according to Nexen's AER approval
  • Whether the pipeline was built according to its original design
  • Whether it was operating within allowable temperature and pressure limits
  • Whether staff complied with the company's reliability management system
  • What can be learned from failures of similar systems elsewhere

Nexen, a wholly subsidiary of Chinese state-owned firm CNOOC Ltd., has said the pipeline could have been leaking for up to two weeks before it was discovered by a contractor on July 15.

The double-walled pipeline - designed to carry raw bitumen from the ground to the processing plant - had been installed a year earlier and a warning system didn't detect the leak. The pipeline, which used a relatively new technology, operated at 100 degrees Celsius in order for the thick bitumen to flow.

The AER updates said the mixture that spilled was one third bitumen, with the rest sand and water.

In August, the AER ordered Nexen to shut 95 pipelines in Alberta because it was non-compliant on matters related to pipeline maintenance and monitoring. Twenty-one of those remain suspended, but Nexen says they're not required for operations.

Long Lake was able to restart fully in September.

Four months later - in a part of Long Lake unrelated to the pipeline spill - an explosion killed one worker and critically injured another.

The blast took place in a part of Long Lake's upgrader, which converts tarry oilsands crude into easier-to-refine light oil. The facility remains shut and the explosion remains under investigation.



Advertisements

Latest Economic News

  • Ivanka Trump shoes factory has long hours, low pay and abuse

    Economic CTV News
    GANZHOU, China -- A worker with blood dripping from his head marked a low point in the tense, grinding life at a southeastern China factory used by Ivanka Trump and other fashion brands. An angry manager had hit him with the sharp end of a high-heeled shoe. Source
  • Facebook hits 2 billion users, doubling in size since 2012

    Economic CBC News
    Facebook Inc. said on Tuesday that 2 billion people are regularly using its flagship service, marching past another milestone in its growth from a college curiosity in the United States to the world's largest social media network. Source
  • Royal Bank to repay investors $21.8M for mistakenly charged investment fees

    Economic CTV News
    TORONTO - The Royal Bank of Canada (TSX:RY) has agreed to a deal with Ontario's securities watchdog to repay $21.8 million to clients who were mistakenly charged some investment fees. The Ontario Securities Commission approved Tuesday the no-contest settlement agreement with RBC Dominion Securities Inc. Source
  • Royal Bank to pay back $22M in investment fees it overcharged

    Economic CBC News
    The Ontario Securities Commission says the settlement comes after a compliance review in 2015 found the bank had overcharged some of its customers 'excess fees,' for their investments. (Mark Blinch/Reuters) The Royal Bank of Canada will pay almost $22 million in compensation to clients who were charged excess fees on some mutual funds and investments products. Source
  • Ransomware is infecting computers all across Europe in another major attack

    Economic CBC News
    A major ransomware attack on Tuesday hit computers at Russia's biggest oil company, the country's banks, Ukraine's international airport as well as global shipping firm A.P. Moller-Maersk. Moscow-based cybersecurity firm Group IB said hackers had exploited code developed by the U.S. Source
  • World's first ATM turns to gold on 50th birthday

    Economic CBC News
    Five decades since it heralded a transformation in the way people obtained and used cash, the world's first ATM was turned into gold for celebrations of its fiftieth anniversary. The brainchild of Scottish inventor John Shepherd-Barron, the first ATM (automated teller machine) was opened on June 27, 1967 at a branch of Barclays bank in Enfield, north London, the first of six cash dispensers commissioned by the bank. Source
  • Bring the brew to you: Beer Store launches home delivery in Ottawa, Scarborough

    Economic CTV News
    TORONTO - The Beer Store is now offering home delivery in two Ontario communities. Customers in Ottawa and the Toronto suburb of Scarborough can now place an order online and have their purchases delivered within two hours. Source
  • Uber makes it easier to arrange trips for other riders

    Economic CTV News
    SAN FRANCISCO -- Uber's ride-hailing app is making it easier for its users to set up trips for seniors and others who may not know their way around a smartphone but still need help getting around town. Source
  • No security risks in Chinese takeover of Canadian satellite firm: Trudeau

    Economic CBC News
    ?Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is making his strongest defence yet of his government's decision to allow a Chinese telecom giant to take over a Canadian satellite technology company. Trudeau says an initial government review of the takeover, required under federal law, unearthed no significant national security risk and didn't require any further reviews, allowing the deal to be allowed to proceed. Source
  • 'Trump' dumped: Toronto condo and hotel tower to ditch Trump name

    Economic CBC News
    The new owners of the Trump International Hotel and Tower Toronto have reached a deal that will see the Trump name removed from the property. JCF Capital says it has reached an agreement with Trump Hotels to buy out the management contracts for the property for an undisclosed amount. Source