Technology Questioned After An Oil Sands Leak

A groundwater aquifer has been contaminated after an oil sands operation by the Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. resulting in technology questions. This question was already asked after a serious leak that happened in north Alberta which is revealed to be using the same technology in question.

Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. said that last October there was a break in a Wolf Lake well and they notified the Alberta Energy Regulator. The said well is involved in a simulation project using cyclic steam applied with high pressure. The company then discovered an unusually high level of hydrocarbons in the aquifer which is situated 60 kilometers from Cold Lake. The area is only 10 kilometers away from Primrose East, a property also owned by the company, where last year they found out that there was a leak of bitumen and water mixture in the surface. It was found out that the Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. was also using the same method of steaming where the leak happened.

The said steam technology is now being questioned for its problematic system. The said problems have been recurring since the year 2009. A representative of Greenpeace Canada is urging the government to take proactive measures to prevent any serious leaks from happening again which might endanger the lives of the people in Alberta. Though questioned many times, the company CNRL is claiming that the technology is not as dangerous as it looks.
The technology in question is called Huff and Puff. It uses cyclic steam simulation by applying high pressure. The process mainly involves the alternate method of injecting the steam and then after the bitumen is softened, it will be drawn to the surface, thus Huff and Puff.

Energy watchdogs of the province is claiming that the old drill holes around the Primrose area may be the medium the fluid is using to flow to the surface.

After the leaks, CNRL asked for permission to resume crude extraction and promise to use another low-pressure technology in return. Permission was granted last September. While operations of Wolf Lake is on hold until the company has followed the regulatory requirements.

An investigation on the Primrose leak is still ongoing.