Devon cleaning up after well leaks mist of water and bitumen

CONKLIN — It’s not yet clear what caused an oily mist to spew from a well at Devon Energy Corp.’s Jackfish oilsands site over the weekend, a spokeswoman for the energy firm said Monday.

CONKLIN — It’s not yet clear what caused an oily mist to spew from a well at Devon Energy Corp.’s Jackfish oilsands site over the weekend, a spokeswoman for the energy firm said Monday.

Workers noticed some steam escaping from a well on Saturday afternoon, prompting the company to put its emergency response plan into action, Nadine Barber said.

“Over the course of a number of hours that steam turned into more of a mist or a spray,” she said.

About 70 per cent of the released substance was water, and the rest was bitumen — peanut butter thick heavy oil embedded in the sand and clay.

The leak stopped late Sunday evening.

No one was hurt, and no nearby work camps or communities needed to be evacuated.

Clean up should wrap up in a few weeks at the most, but it’s not known when production from the affected well pad will be back online.

The Energy Resources Conservation Board and Alberta Energy are investigating what caused the blowout and what it has done to the environment.

At Jackfish, the Canadian division of Oklahoma-based Devon uses a method called steam-assisted gravity drainage to draw oil from deep underground.

Steam is injected through one well to soften the thick bitumen, which can be drawn to the surface in a second “producer” well. The ruptured well was a producer well.

All seven wells on the affected pad are offline. The other three seven-well pads at Jackfish continue to produce bitumen.

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