Canadian Natural Resources says leaks at Primrose oil sands operation contained

CALGARY – Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. (TSX:CNQ) says a mechanical failure caused contamination at its Primrose project on the Cold Lake Air Weapons Range, but says the damage has been contained and cleanup is ongoing.

About 6,300 barrels of bitumen emulsion have been collected to date, with the rate of seepage now totalling less than 20 barrels per day, the company said Wednesday.

The four locations initially impacted at Primrose covered an area of 20.7 hectares, but the area in need of clean-up has now been reduced to 13.5 hectares.

The Calgary-based company says each of four locations where bitumen has been oozing to the surface has been secured, with clean-up, recovery and reclamation activities now well underway.

CNRL also says it believes the cause of the seepage was mechanical failures of wellbores in the vicinity of the impacted locations.

The Calgary-based company says there is no risk to humans from the spill, although 16 birds, seven small mammals and 38 amphibians have died as a result of the seepage.

The discoveries were immediately reported to the Alberta Energy Regulator, which is working with Canadian Natural Resources and Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development to investigate and remediate the affected locations.

The company also says it’s taking “proactive measures” to prevent this type of incident in the future.

Canadian Natural Resources’ near term steaming plan at Primrose has also been modified as a result of the spill, with restrictions on steaming in some areas until the investigation is complete.

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