Calgary

AER orders Obsidian Energy to suspend well after produced water spills into wetland

The Alberta Energy Regulator has ordered oil and gas company Obsidian Energy to suspend a well and associated infrastructure after a produced water spill.

Spill has entered Pembina River tributary, 40 kilometres northwest of Drayton Valley

The Alberta Energy Regulator has ordered Calgary-based Obsidian Energy to suspend a water injection well near Drayton Valley. (AER)

The Alberta Energy Regulator has ordered oil and gas company Obsidian Energy to suspend a well and associated infrastructure after a produced water spill.

The AER said Obsidian became aware of the spill at noon on May 29, and notified the AER at approximately 2:30 p.m. that 80 cubic metres of produced water had spilled — but that it hadn't entered any bodies of water.

Produced water is water that's a byproduct of oil and gas exploration and production, and its high salt content and chemical contaminants can cause negative environmental impacts. 

Later that day, AER sent inspectors to the site and confirmed the produced water had spilled into a wetland, a tributary of the Pembina River about 40 kilometres northwest of Drayton Valley.

The AER's order states that it found the spill was not contained and was greater than initially reported when staff visited the site.

Cleanup underway

"The well and associated pipelines have been shut in and cleanup is underway," said AER in an emailed statement, adding that the agency has a number of compliance and enforcement tools it can use if necessary.

Obsidian said in an emailed statement that the leak came from a piping connection at a water reinjection site and that it's been isolated, and the spilled water contained.

"Obsidian Energy takes responsibility for this event and is committed to minimizing our impact to the environment in all areas in which we operate. Our investigation to determine the root cause of the spill is continuing," the statement read.

The company said there has been no impact to residents or wildlife, and that it's conducting detailed monitoring of soil, water, air, vegetation and wildlife. 

"Our efforts are currently focused on the cleanup and restoration of the site, which is expected to occur over the next few weeks," Obsidian said.

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