July 22, 2015
ANZAC, Alta. — A major oil pipeline leak detected last week in northern Alberta started some time within a two-week period dating back to late June, Nexen Energy said Wednesday.
Ron Bailey, the company’s senior vice-president of Canadian operations, said officials still don’t know precisely when the pipeline ruptured. But Bailey said the company believes the pipeline started leaking between June 29, when crews finished a cleaning, and July 15, when a contractor discovered it.
CEO Fang Zhi travelled to the site of the spill, about 35 kilometres southeast of Fort McMurray, where he offered an apology for what happened.
“It’s disheartening to see the site and it’s disappointing that this has happened,” Zhi said after giving news media a tour of the cleanup site. “I therefore personally apologize for the consequences this might have caused.”
The spill of about five million litres of bitumen, sand and produced water was discovered near Nexen Energy’s Long Lake oilsands facility. The pipeline was installed last year and a warning system didn’t detect the leak.
On Sunday, a dead duck was found at the site of the spill, but the company said it believes the animal died before it put fences, wildlife cannons and other deterrents in place in an effort to limit further environmental harm.
“Our focus as of now is ensuring the safety of our workers on the site, minimizing whatever impact on the environment and on the wildlife, as well as understanding the root causes of this incident through investigations,” Zhi said.
Bailey said it will take months before the company can determine what caused the leak.
The affected area is about 16,000 square metres.