Alberta Energy Regulator

Alberta Energy Regulator

April 17, 2014 17:00 ET

Alberta Energy Regulator Approves CNRL Modified Steaming Application

CALGARY, ALBERTA--(Marketwired - April 17, 2014) - The Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) has approved Canadian Natural Resources Limited's (CNRL's) application to modify steaming at phases 23 and 24 of its Primrose and Wolf Lake operations.

The application relates to changes to subsurface operations only. No new wells are approved with this decision.

The steaming restrictions imposed by the AER in 2013 remain in place at Primrose East and within 1 kilometre of the 9-21 flow-to-surface (FTS) location, Primrose South.

"In July, the AER completely restricted steaming operations in the four areas that have bitumen releasing to the surface. Those restrictions remain in place," said AER President and CEO Jim Ellis. "We also directed CNRL to modify steaming operations within the rest of its Primrose site, which included reduced volumes and increased monitoring. This application is a direct response to that request."

Ellis adds that after a thorough review, the AER has determined that this application meets the technical requirements.

"The AER understands that Albertans are concerned about operations at Primrose and Wolf Lake. While we don't generally announce project approvals outside of hearing processes, after reviewing concerns submitted by several stakeholders, we want to ensure transparency is upheld," Ellis said.

The AER has set the following requirements for CNRL to resume modified steaming operations in phases 23 and 24:

  • Conduct no steaming within 1 kilometre of the 9-21 FTS release.

  • Adopt modified steaming operations, including lower injection volumes.

  • Ensure that revised monitoring protocols are in place, as directed by the AER in July 2013, to trigger enhanced operational response to potential issues.

  • Prior to steam injection, review all existing wellbores in the vicinity and provide a risk assessment and mitigation plan to address potential wellbore failures.

The AER continues to investigate four bitumen emulsion FTS releases at Primrose and Wolf Lake.

The AER ensures the safe, efficient, orderly, and environmentally responsible development of hydrocarbon resources over their entire life cycle. This includes allocating and conserving water resources, managing public lands, and protecting the environment while providing economic benefits for all Albertans.


The Alberta Energy Regulator has approved CNRL's application for modified steaming operations at phases 23 and 24 of its Primrose and Wolf Lake operations with reduced steaming volumes and increased monitoring. The steaming restrictions imposed by the AER in July 2013 related to the ongoing incident at Primrose remain in effect.

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