Image courtesy of Nexen Energy/Flickr.

Regulators cleared Nexen Energy to resume full output at its Long Lake oil sands project in Alberta last week after several pipelines were shutdown following a July emulsion leak.

Nexen said on September 16 that the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) lifted a suspension order for 10 pipelines at the Long Lake facility near Fort McMurray, Alberta.

The order follows a first amendment to the suspension issued on September 6 that allowed Nexen to maintain about 75 percent of its Long Lake oil sands production and upgrader operations.

Alberta-based Nexen said it is now able to resume 100 percent of its Long Lake operations.

Production capacity at Long Lake is 72,000 barrels of bitumen per day, according to Nexen.

Nexen is committed to managing our operations in a safe, environmentally and socially responsible manner. We are complying with the requirements of the AER’s Suspension Order, as amended, including addressing the remaining outstanding pipelines, which are not currently required for operations,” the company said.

Nexen was ordered to shut in 95 Alberta pipelines in late August after regulators flagged noncompliance issues at Long Lake.

The Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) ordered an immediate suspension of 15 pipeline licenses that required Nexen to shut in pipelines that carry natural gas, crude oil, salt water, fresh water and emulsion.

The AER said an investigation into a July 15 emulsion spill indicated pipeline maintenance and monitoring noncompliance on multiple pipelines at the Long Lake facility.

Emulsion is a mixture of bitumen, produced water and sand.

The spill size is currently estimated at 5,000 cubic meters of emulsion, or about 31,500 barrels, and is believed to have affected an area of about 16,000 square meters, mostly within a compacted pipeline corridor.

Nexen is a wholly owned subsidiary of China’s CNOOC.


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