Work is underway at a site near Fort McKay to stop the release of uncontrolled steam from an injection well.
In a statement published by the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER), on March 5, 2023, the Orphan Well Association (OWA) was at the in situ facility investigating Everest Canadian Resources for environmental non-compliance.
The regulator issued a Reasonable Care and Measures Order on March 3.
“We have instructed the OWA to take control of this incident and they are working to stop the release and make the site safe. There is no risk to public safety and no injuries have been reported.”
Both groups contacted stakeholders about the accident, including the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo and eight surrounding Indigenous communities.
“We acknowledge that these activities take place on and near Indigenous traditional and Treaty territories, and we are ever mindful of the need to involve and inform them regarding those activities.”
The AER said it had raised concerns with Everest following repeated failures to comply with regulatory requirements.
“The AER has concerns about Everest Canadian Resources’ ability to conduct its operations in compliance with Alberta’s regulatory requirements and as a result, we are taking this preventative measure to protect the environment.”
Stop production order
A stop production order was in place, so no Everest personnel were working at the time of the accident.
We have issued a Reasonable Care and Measures Order for Everest Canadian Resources Corp.’s assets, including its in situ facility. See our statement here: https://t.co/HcEEFglsHG pic.twitter.com/VvR8EXXr2w
— Alberta Energy Regulator (@AER_news) March 4, 2023
Between March 16, 2021 and July 5, 2022, at least 93 non-compliance orders were issued to Everest.
The following is a timeline of events leading to the shutdown.
- In a phone call with the AER on March 1, 2023, Everest’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) confirmed that Everest was shutting-in its McKay Facility.
- On March 2, 2023, an Everest employee notified the AER Field Operations Northeast staff that an equipment failure occurred at the McKay Facility and that the McKay Facility was without heat.
- An AER Inspector visited the sites, and confirmed that the McKay Facility was being shut-in and there was reduced protection from the freezing temperatures.
- On March 3, 2023, Everest notified AER Field Operations Northeast staff that it intended to restart steaming operations at the McKay Facility.
- Everest staff notified AER Field Operations Northeast staff that the remaining heating system for the facility had to be shut-down per a third-party inspector regarding integrity concerns of the equipment.
A full timeline is included with the order published by the Alberta Energy Regulator on its Compliance Dashboard.
The OWA has been directed by the AER to take immediate care over the site and confirm the facility has been closed or shut down by March 18, 2023.