August 31, 2015

Bitumen Emulsion Leaking Again

oil spill
Crews work to clean an oil spill near Nexen's Long Lake facility by Fort McMurray. The spill was discovered by a contractor after the safety system designed to detect ruptures failed. Garrett Barry/Fort McMurray Today/Postmedia Network
The Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) has issued a suspension order on 95 Nexen Energy pipelines in northern Alberta.
The AER said Friday that the suspension order was issued due to “noncompliant activities at Long Lake oilsands operations pertaining to pipeline maintenance and monitoring.”
The order immediately suspends 15 pipeline licences, which encompasses 95 pipelines that are carrying natural gas, crude oil, salt water, fresh water, and emulsion. Before the pipelines can be restarted, Nexen must provide “sufficient documentation” to assure the AER that these lines can be operated safely.
“Protection of public safety and the environment are the AER’s top priority,” said AER president and CEO Jim Ellis, in a press release. “Given that this company has already had a pipeline failure at this site, the AER will not lift this suspension until Nexen can demonstrate that they can be operated safely and within all regulatory requirements. We will accept no less than concrete evidence.”
In July, AER issued an environmental protection order to Nexen Energy over the leak of five million litres of oil emulsion, which is a mix of bitumen, water and sand, from a line at the Long Lake oilsands facility. The spill was discovered on July 15, when a contractor stumbled across the ruptured pipeline.
The affected area from the spill tipped in at about 16,000 square metres, mostly along the pipeline’s route.
The AER is continuing to investigate the spill. Once complete, the AER will publish its findings.
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