Bitumen well blows out near Conklin

A blowout forced the closure of a bitumen well in northeastern Alberta on the weekend.

A blowout occurred Saturday at a bitumen well in northeastern Alberta.

The steam release leak was discovered around 1:30 p.m. on Saturday and stopped by midnight Sunday. The well, located near Conklin, is part of the Jackfish project owned by Devon Energy Corporation.

The Alberta Energy Resources Conservation Board [ERCB] is now investigating. No one was hurt in the blowout and the board says the public was not in any danger.

The company is not sure how much bitumen was released as a result of the blowout.

"It went up into the air above the lease and then landed on the lease," said company spokeswoman Nadine Barber.

"There was some spray that may have migrated outside of the lease but all that is being determined right now with Alberta Environment and the ERCB and our own folks."

Steam is mixed with bitumen in the well to make it easier to bring the bitumen to the surface. The material that was released was a mix of 70 per cent water and 30 per cent bitumen.

The environmental impact of the leak isn't known, Barber said. 

Devon is working with the ERCB and other government agencies to ensure it meets proper remediation standards.

The site should take about two to three weeks to clean up, Barber said.