/ The Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) has changed its mind regarding Canadian Natural Resources Limited’s (CNRL) application to resume oilsands operations at the company’s Primrose and Wolf Lake sites. The regulator’s April 17 decision allows CNRL to extract bitumen through steam injection technology at the remote east-central Alberta oil leases.

Operations at the Primrose and Wolf Lake sites were partially halted in July 2013 when bitumen emulsion — a mix of bitumen and waste water — began leaking to the ground surface in four places in May. Operation restrictions at the leak site remain in place. The new approval allows CNRL to extract bitumen within a minimum of one kilometre from the Primrose South leak. The AER is still investigating the cause of the leaks. The regulator and CNRL have speculated they are due to leaky well shafts at the drill site.

“We also directed CNRL to modify steaming operations within the rest of its Primrose site which included reduced volumes and increased monitoring” says AER president and CEO Jim Ellis.

“The AER understands that Albertans are concerned about operations at Primrose and Wolf Lake…. After reviewing concerns submitted by several stakeholders we want to ensure transparency is upheld” Ellis adds.

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