Oil leak near Cold Lake almost cleaned up, says company

Oilsands company Canadian Natural Resources has given an update on efforts to halt an oil leak at its Cold Lake operation that has killed dozens of animals.

Canadian Natural Resources says Primrose oil leak mostly under control

Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. (CNRL) executives tried to reassure shareholders Thursday that an oil spill at their Primrose oilsands operation near Cold Lake is mostly under control. 

Since last May, 1,277 cubic metres of oil have leaked to the surface at the Primrose operation. Dozens of animals have been killed.  

The company uses high-pressure steam in the area to extract bitumen from underground. 

CNRL President Steve Laut said three of the four sites have been cleaned up at a cost of $60 million.

"At this point in time there is no oil leaking to the surface," he said.

"I suspect this cold weather has sealed it off for now. We'll see what happens in the spring when it warms up, but the leaks were very small before the freeze-up."

The Alberta Energy Regulator is investigating the cause of the leaks.

The company says it appears to be a mechanical problem with faulty wells. However, environmental groups are not so sure.

There was an underground blowout at the site in 2009 and they question whether that indicates a bigger problem.