News Release 2011-02-11


News Release 2011-02-11

News Release 2011-02-11 (NR2011-03)

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ERCB releases investigation report on February 2010 blowout in northwest Alberta

For immediate release

Calgary, Alberta (Feb 11, 2011)… The Energy Resources Conservation Board (ERCB) has released an investigation report regarding a blowout that occurred February 24, 2010 during the drilling of an exploratory natural gas well operated by Canadian Natural Resources Limited (CNRL). The well was located approximately 22 kilometres northwest of Hythe, Alberta.

The ERCB has determined that the blowout was caused when CNRL encountered an abnormally high pressure formation while drilling the well, which in turn led to the failure of the well’s casing bowl blind flange above ground.

The ERCB found that CNRL deployed air monitoring units in a timely and effective manner. No off-lease readings of hydrogen sulphide or sulphur dioxide were recorded during the incident. The ERCB and Alberta Environment dispatched mobile air monitoring units to the area as well. At no time were Alberta’s ambient air quality standards compromised.

There were no injuries, public safety was not jeopardized, and there was minimal environmental impact. The closest residence to the location is 7.4 kilometres away.

The ERCB has issued high-risk enforcement against the company for failing to include all required information as set forth by ERCB Directive 036: Drilling Blowout Prevention Requirements and Procedures. However, the ERCB does not believe that the omission of this information was related in any way to the cause of the blowout.

Blowouts in Alberta are rare. In 2009, four blowouts occurred during drilling operations.

This news release, the investigation report, and Directive 036 are available on the ERCB Web site at

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For more information, please contact:

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