News Release 2011-05-10


News Release 2011-05-10

News Release 2011-05-10 (NR2011-12)

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ERCB orders interim shut-in of natural gas production

For immediate release

Calgary, Alberta (May 10, 2011)… The Energy Resources Conservation Board (ERCB) has issued Decision 2011-012, which concludes that production of natural gas from 321 wells may present a significant risk to future in situ bitumen recovery and must be shut in, pending the outcome of a final ERCB hearing. The gas wells to be shut in are located approximately 100 km north west of Fort McMurray.

The estimated production of the shut-in natural gas is 360,000 cubic metres per day (13 million cubic feet per day). The production shut-in, effective May 31, 2011, will remain in place until the ERCB has held a final public hearing on this matter. That hearing has not yet been scheduled.

Gas production from these wells may put bitumen recovery at risk. The geological formations in question contain natural gas that is in contact with potentially recoverable bitumen. When this gas is extracted, there is a drop in pressure that may impact bitumen recovery operations that employ extraction methods like steam-assisted gravity drainage.

The hearing on this matter was a written process from June 30, 2010 to March 1, 2011, prompted by an application and submission from Athabasca Oil Sands Corp. for the interim shut in of gas production from certain wells. Most of the affected gas wells are licensed to Canadian Natural Resources Limited and Perpetual Energy Operating Corp.

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For more information, please contact:

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