Regulator restricts operations at Canadian Natural project

CALGARY, Alberta, July 18 Thu Jul 18, 2013 3:48pm EDT

CALGARY, Alberta, July 18 (Reuters) - Canadian Natural Resources Ltd, Canada's largest independent oil producer, was ordered on Thursday to restrict steam injections at its 120,000 barrel per day Primrose and Wolf Lake oil sands projects in northern Alberta by the Alberta Energy Regulator.

The restrictions were placed on the company after four separate releases of bitumen emulsion from the site this year.

The company must also enhance monitoring and accelerate cleanup of the spills, though they pose no threat to public safety, the regulator said.

There is no immediate estimate of how much production will be lost from the sites. They use high-pressure cyclic steam stimulation, which intermittently pumps steam into the oil sands reservoir.

Canadian Natural could not be immediately reached for comment.