23 July 2015, News Wires – Nexen Energy said it could take months to determine the cause of a huge hydrocarbon spill discovered earlier this month in northern Alberta, one of the biggest oil-related spills on land ever in North America.
Ron Bailey, Nexen’s senior vice president of Canadian operations, told reporters on Wednesday that the company is putting a higher priority on cleaning up the spill from its pipeline and investigating its cause than on restarting the Kinosis oil sands project where the spill took place, Reuters reported.
Nexen is a subsidiary of China’s CNOOC Ltd.
Bailey said there were about 130 workers doing clean-up and investigation work at the site.
The leak in the double-layer pipeline spilled more than 31,500 barrels of emulsion, a mixture of bitumen, water and sand, onto an area of about 16,000 square metres.
The spill site, south of the oil sands hub of Fort McMurray, was detected on 15 July by a contractor walking along the pipeline route. Nexen has not determined when the leak started or why a new state-of-the-art leak detection system failed.
Bailey said leak likely occurred after 29 June, when the pipeline was cleaned with water, according to Reuters.
Nexen chief executive Fang Zhi personally apologised for the spill on Wednesday, echoing an apology by the company on Friday.
The Nexen leak was larger than the July 2010 rupture of an Enbridge pipeline that spilled an estimated 20,000 barrels of crude, with some reaching Michigan’s Kalamazoo River.