Oil Sands Truth: Shut Down the Tar Sands

Devon Energy reports Alberta Tar Sands well leak

Devon Energy reports Alberta Oil Sands well leak
By Edward Welsch

CALGARY (MarketWatch) -- A blowout at one of Devon Energy Inc.'s oil sands wells in northeastern Alberta over the weekend sprayed an oil mist into the air for nearly 36 hours, the company and regulators said Monday.

Devon employees discovered a leak in one of the producer wells at the company's 35,000 barrel-a-day Jackfish facility mid-day Saturday and managed to seal the leak by midnight Sunday, a Devon spokeswoman said.

No one was injured and regulators said there was no danger to the public. The Alberta Environment ministry and the Alberta Energy Conservation Resources Board are investigating the cause of the leak.

Jackfish is a two-year-old "in situ" oil sands project, in which pairs of wells are used to inject steam underground to soften oil sands, and then to pump back up a mixture of oil sands and steam. The project has 28 such well pairs, and the leak occurred in one of the older sections of the project, the Devon spokeswoman said.

The blowout shot an oil-steam mixture about 30 to 40 feet into the air, most of which fell back onto Devon's lease, the spokeswoman said, though some was carried off the site by the wind. She said the company was tracking where the oil went and set up containment booms downstream of a nearby creek as a preventative measure.

Jackfish is located in a relatively remote area, but is about 12 miles from the small town of Conklin, Alberta.

Devon said it doesn't yet know how much oil was released, nor the cost of repairing the well.

Devon is currently building a second Jackfish project nearby of the same size, which will be complete by the end of the year. Construction was not affected by the blowout, the spokeswoman said.


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