​AER lays five charges against Nexen for 2015 Long Lake pipeline spill

AER staff inspect the pipeline spill at the Long Lake SAGD project in summer 2015. Image: AER

The Alberta Energy Regulator has laid five charges against CNOOC-Nexen as a result of a pipeline spill at the Long Lake SAGD project in July 2015.

The incident spilled about 31,000 barrels of bitumen, water and sand emulsion from a new pipeline connecting a new well pad to the main plant. The release is estimated to have affected an area of about 900 square meters.

The AER describes it as one of Alberta's largest pipeline spills.

In August 2015 Nexen self-disclosed a number of pipeline non-compliance activities at Long Lake to the AER. Pipeline operations at the site were temporarily suspended.

The AER charges under the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act and Public Lands Act include one count for releasing a substance to the environment that caused or may have caused an adverse effect, one count for failing to report the release of the substance as soon as possible, two counts relating to failures to take all reasonable measures to remediate, and one count of causing a disturbance to public land.

“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 statement.

“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.”

The first court appearance is scheduled for August 16, 2017, in Fort McMurray.

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