The Long Lake oil sands site. Image courtesy of Nexen Energy/Flickr.

One man died and another was seriously injured after an explosion on Friday at Nexen Energy’s Long Lake oil sands facility south of Fort McMurray, Alberta.

The company said the blast occurred near the Long Lake site’s hydrocracker unit at 3:20 pm on January 15.

The company’s emergency response plan was activated and response personnel, including first responders from the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, arrived on site.

One employee died as result of the accident and another sustained “serious injuries.”

The employee who was injured was sent to a local hospital and has subsequently been transported to Edmonton for further treatment, Nexen said.

The affected facility was shutdown immediately after the accident and the site has been stabilized.

Nexen, a wholly-owned subsidiary of China’s CNOOC, has also shut down the site’s upgrader and reduced its SAGD facility to minimum rates.

“Our employees, contractors and neighboring communities are our primary concern, and we can confirm that we have taken steps to ensure their well-being and safety,” Nexen said.

Regulators were immediately notified and the company said it is fully cooperating with authorities.

Nexen has also begun its own internal investigation to determine the cause of the accident.

The Long Lake oil sands site is estimated to hold as many as 1.7 trillion barrels of oil, with about 167 billion barrels being recoverable using current technology.

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

In September, the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) lifted a suspension order for several pipelines at the Long Lake facility that was put into place after an emulsion leak in July.

The AER said an investigation into the July pipeline failure indicated pipeline maintenance and monitoring noncompliance on multiple pipelines at Long Lake.


Leave a Reply