January 17, 2005

Acclaim's Acheson well brought under control, investigation begins

Early last week, well-control experts succeeded in stopping the flow of gas, water and trace amounts of oil on Acclaim Energy Trust's Acheson 2-26 well, west of Edmonton (ELW January 10, 2005). A relief well was drilled down to the 2-26 well casing and drilling mud was pumped into the well, stopping the flow and extinguishing the flame.

The Alberta Energy and Utilities Board (EUB) reported that there was no further source of hydrogen sulfide or sulfur dioxide and therefore no threat to public safety. Air quality monitoring and well control operations continued in the area until the EUB declared the well to be secured on January 13.

By mid-week, Acclaim had advised residents who had been under mandatory evacuation that they could return to their homes. Some of the eight families did so, while others indicated that they would wait until the weekend.

With the well secured, the EUB discontinued operation of the Regional Emergency Response Centre and immediately launched an investigation of the blowout to determine the root cause. The technical and scientific investigation will also examine how Acclaim Energy Trust, the EUB and other involved authorities implemented the Upstream Petroleum Incident Support Plan in response to the incident, and the effectiveness of Acclaim Energy's emergency response plan and its implementation.

Non-technical matters to be addressed by the probe will include the effectiveness of current regulations governing suspended oil and gas wells. A final report, expected within six months, will offer recommendations on this topic and on measures to prevent similar occurrences.

EUB board member Jim Dilay and field operations manager Ed May have been appointed to lead the investigation team, whose other members include EUB technical experts. They will be assisted by University of Alberta engineering professor Dr David Wilson and former energy executive Ray Woods.

Acclaim will also be conducting its own investigation of the incident, working with support from various other parties, including the EUB. The company will submit a complete and comprehensive report to the EUB. Acclaim will also continue to monitor air and water quality from the area, as well as taking additional soil samples over the next week. Results to date show there is no contamination concern. All mandatory evacuated families were advised they could return to their homes as of 3:00 p.m. on January 12.

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