Lax procedures to blame in B.C. Suncor well explosion
Oil rig in northern B.C. burned for a week after a drilling mishap in 2012
A new report from B.C.'s oil and gas regulator points to a lack of protocols and training as the cause of an oil well blowout in northeastern B.C. last March.
The blowout and fire at the Suncor well site in the Altares field, approximately 30 km north of Hudson's Hope and 69 km west of Fort St. John, destroyed an oil rig and burned for a week. The blowout also sent a crew member flying into an equipment shack.
The BC Oil and Gas Commission now says the blowout could have been avoided, and that lax procedures are to blame.
Hardy Friedrich, a spokesman for the Oil and Gas Commission, said the accident was likely completely preventable.
"Had clear procedures been in place leading up to the increase in pressure, it's unlikely that well control would have been lost," Friedrich said.
The blowout was caused by too much pressure from drilling fluid. Friedrich says the Nabors 9 rig crew didn't have much experience or training drilling deep, high-pressured wells, like the one they were working on.
"We asked Suncor to look at their procedures and their training and put new measures in place," Friedrich said.
One worker suffered minor injuries after the fluid blasted from the well.
The Oil and Gas Commission determined that the blowout and fire had minimal environmental impacts, as the drilling fluid was contained on site by a berm, Friedrich said.
"So there was no potential for run-off or anything like that and, after the incident, the commission ensures the operator remediates the site completely. So in that case, the operator was require to excavate any soil that may have been affected by any spillage," he said.
Suncor says it has already taken steps to address gaps in training and well control protocols.
The commission will now determine if there will be any penalties for the company.
With files from the CBC's Marissa Harvey