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Holding Industry Accountable

During an investigation, we collect information necessary to understand why an incident happened, stop the noncompliant activity, identify the responsible parties, and, if necessary, take enforcement action. We make sure this process is timely, fair, and transparent.

Note: We can provide only limited information about ongoing investigations in order to protect the legal process and our ability to pursue all enforcement options.

Related Information

Nexen Long Lake Pipeline Failure

We continue to investigate a Nexen pipeline failure that occurred on July 15, 2015, about 36 kilometres southeast of Fort McMurray.

What Happened

On July 15, 2015, Nexen reported a pipeline failure that released about 5000 cubic metres of bitumen emulsion and impacted an area of about 40 x 400 metres, about 36 kilometres southeast of Fort McMurray. The release was mainly isolated to the pipeline right-of–way, which included muskeg habitat, and did not flow into a water body. Wildlife impacted by the release included two ducks and nine frogs.

The pipeline failure incident was downgraded to a nonemergency on August 7, 2015, after Nexen successfully removed the remaining bitumen emulsion from the pipeline, eliminating the possibility of any further release. Nexen coordinated tours of the spill site for the minister of Energy, minister of Environment and Parks, media, and local stakeholders, including representatives from the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, local First Nations, and Métis settlements.

What We Have Done

We issued a suspension order on August 28, 2015, due to noncompliant activities at Nexen’s Long Lake oil sands operations pertaining to pipeline maintenance and monitoring. This remains an ongoing investigation. The order directed Nexen to

  • immediately suspend its operations under 15 pipeline licences, which required shutting in 95 pipelines, including 24 disposal and production water pipelines and 10 production pipelines carrying natural gas, crude oil, salt water, fresh water, and emulsion; and
  • provide sufficient documentation to assure us that these lines can be operated safely and pose low risk to the public and environment.

In the fall of 2015, we rescinded the suspension order when Nexen fulfilled the operating conditions set out in the order. We continue to monitor and inspect operations at the Long Lake facility as a part of our regular compliance and enforcement work.

In July 2017, we laid charges against Nexen under the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act and Public Lands Act. The matter is now under review by Crown prosecutors.

Further information is available on our Compliance Dashboard.