News Release 2010-03-08


News Release 2010-03-08

News Release 2010-03-08 (NR2010-03)

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Control efforts for well blowout begin near Hythe

For immediate release

Calgary, Alberta (Mar 08, 2010)… The Energy Resources Conservation Board (ERCB) has approved a plan to regain control of a well following a sour natural gas well blowout 19 km north west of Hythe, Alberta. The well is licensed to CNRL and the blowout occurred at approximately 3:00 am on Wednesday, February 24. The gas well has been on fire since the incident begun.

Over the last several days, well control specialists have cleared the site, done an assessment on the wellhead, and formulated a plan to gain control of the well. The plan, which goes into effect at 12:30 p.m. today, has both a primary and a secondary approach. The primary approach involves putting out the fire temporarily to install new blowout preventers. This would enable any gas being produced by the well to be channeled to a separator and burned off through a flare stack.

It is estimated that the fire will be out for approximately 30 minutes while the blowout preventers are installed. It is possible that gas containing trace amounts of H2S will be released to the atmosphere while the fire is out. Seven mobile air quality monitoring units will be in the area to monitor for any off-lease H2S emissions.

Gaining control of the well by a top entry is the primary method for ending the blowout. It is expected that it will take several days to completely regain control while drilling mud is pumped downhole to restore equilibrium in the geological formation and end the flow of gas to the surface. Should the primary method prove unsuccessful, the secondary means of control for this well is to drill a relief well. The drilling for the relief well has already begun.

Roadblocks have been established 4 km on either side of the well site on a nearby industry road, and a no-fly zone has been established for 3,000 feet overhead.

There is no threat to public safety at this time. There have been no readings of sour gas (hydrogen sulphide) by air monitors. ERCB inspectors have already begun an investigation into the incident. Residents in the area have been notified. The closest resident to the well is 7.4 km away. All appropriate authorities have been notified.

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For more information, please contact:

Bob Curran, ERCB Communications
Phone: 403-297-3392
Media line: 1-855-474-6356