January 22, 2011 at 12:17 pm #2410
Alberta oilsands explosion injures 4
CBC News Last Updated: Thursday, January 6, 2011 | 10:59 PM MT
The fire followed an explosion at the CNRL Horizon site around 3:30 p.m. MT Thursday. (Submitted)
An explosion has rocked the Horizon oilsands site near the Fort McKay First Nation in northern Alberta, injuring four employees.
The explosion occurred around 3:30 p.m. MT Thursday. The owner of the site, Canadian Natural Resources Ltd., said at 7 p.m. MT that the fire was contained to the coker area. A coker uses heat to convert bitumen into crude oil.
Two employees were taken to hospital in Fort McMurray. One person sustained first-degree burns, another suffered second- and third-degree burns.
Two people were treated at the site.
The families of the injured employees have been notified. The company has accounted for all other employees.
A contractor at the site said the blast shot flames and smoke hundreds of metres into the air. “We heard a massive explosion rock the entire area,” said the man, who did not want to be named.
“We thought it was in our unit. We ran out of the unit as quickly as we can. I looked up back up at the coker structure, and it was completely engulfed in flames a 480-foot [146-metre] tall structure completely engulfed in flames.”
A still from video sent to CBC offers another view of the fire. (Submitted)
Fort McKay resident Marlene Orr told CBC earlier in the day she could see smoke from her kitchen window.
“I’m looking at a huge wall of black smoke that’s filling the sky,” Orr said. “We don’t know what is being released right now into the air.”
CNRL says a mobile air-monitoring unit and officials from Alberta Environment and the Energy Resources Conservation Board are en route. Air-monitoring equipment already on site indicated good quality as of 6 p.m. MT, the company said.
The fire started in an upgrader across from a plant that converts bitumen into crude oil. Production has been suspended at the site, and it is not known when it will resume.
CNRL said the site did not have to be evacuated.
January 25, 2011 at 10:02 am #5322
<In case you had not read about the additional information on CNRL upgrader fire – . CERandall comment>
[color=#0a428a size=5]CNRL provides additional update
[color=#0a428a size=5]on Horizon upgrader incident
Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. released additional information
on the Jan. 6 fire at its Horizon upgrader in northern
CNRL said investigations by Alberta Occupational Health
and Safety (OHS) and its investigation team have been under way
since the incident. In addition, CNRL has had a recovery team
in place since Jan. 7. The team has begun planning repairs to the
equipment and derrick infrastructure damaged by the fire.
CNRL’s updated summary is as follows:
. The fire occurred at about 3:30 pm on Jan. 6 at the top of
coke drum 1B (1 of 4 coke drums used at Horizon), an area commonly
referred to as the cutting deck. The fire burned for about
3 hr and 45 min and was allowed to burn itself out, which is the
safest way to manage this type of fire.
. Five workers were injured during the incident. Four of
which were medically cleared on Jan 6. One worker remained in
an Edmonton hospital in stable condition.
. Air monitoring at the Horizon site and areas around the
site, including Fort McKay, has been ongoing during and after
the incident. Recorded air quality has been at levels between 5
and 7 out of a scale of 100, with readings below 25 considered
good air quality by Alberta Environment.
. Workers returned to their normal shifts at Horizon on the
morning of Jan. 7.
. OHS and CNRL are working together to determine the
causes of the incident.
. OHS has now given CNRL personnel access to key areas
around the primary upgrader to ensure equipment can be
flushed and made safe for winter conditions. Additional access
is expected to be granted to the upper decks of the cokers in the
next few days to allow for the assessment of structural stability
and to determine the extent of infrastructure required to be replaced.
. CNRL has confirmed electronic and instrument communication
exists with two coke drums (2A and 2B) and evaluation
of the other two coke drums (1A and 1B) continues. This would
indicate that damage to at least two coke drums (2A and 2B) is
likely to be minimal and in addition visual observations indicate
damage to all four coke drums may be minimal.
. It appears that the majority of the damage is above the cutting
deck and derrick infrastructure of coke drum 1B.
. A photographic-based survey of the cokers is planned for
Jan. 11 to determine the extent of the damage to the derrick infrastructure.
. CNRL has started the procurement process for all necessary
replacement components and parts for repairing the cutting
deck and derrick infrastructure above coke drums 1A and
. Although it is too early to conclusively determine at this
stage, there is the possibility that two of the four coke drums (2A
and 2B) could be started up in a shorter time frame allowing the
Horizon plant to run at production rates roughly half of target
capability until the repairs to the other coke drums (1A and 1B),
cutting deck, and derrick infrastructure is completed.
. While repairs to the damage are undertaken, CNRL will
address maintenance backlog and potentially advance future
turnaround work at the Horizon site, which should reduce maintenance
downtime in the future.
. CNRL maintains a $2 billion umbrella insurance package
for the Horizon facility which should cover a substantial portion
of the cost to repair damaged parts and equipment and which
provides business interruption insurance to effectively cover ongoing
operating costs incurred on the site after 90 days.
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