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AER says more spill safeguards needed before Primrose returns to normal

Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. has reported more than two dozen bitumen spills since January 2014.
Canadian Natural Resources, Ltd. provided media access to spills at its Primrose site near the Cold Lake Air Weapons Range in northeast Alberta. August 8, 2013. Vassy Kapelos, Global News

CALGARY – The Alberta Energy Regulator says Canadian Natural Resources Ltd.’s Primrose oilsands project in northeastern Alberta won’t be returning to normal full operations any time soon.

Jim Ellis, who heads up the provincial energy watchdog, says it won’t allow a return to business as usual until all of the risks have been addressed and the right safeguards are in place to prevent bitumen from oozing to the surface.

An emulsion of bitumen and water was found to be leaking from four sites more than a year ago, affecting 20.7 hectares.

READ MORE: Crude Awakening: 37 years of oil spills in Alberta

The AER says 1.2 million litres of the mixture has been recovered and that the spill has been contained.

The AER has taken a look at a “causation review” completed by Canadian Natural last month, as well as an independent technical review of the company’s findings.

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The independent review suggests the way in which Canadian Natural injected steam underground was a “fundamental cause” behind the incidents.

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