* Regulator imposes steam restrictions after spills
* Four spills of water-bitumen mix this year
* Restrictions will not change production targets
CALGARY, Alberta, July 18 Steam restrictions
imposed on the Wolf Lake and Primrose oil sands projects after
spills of bitumen emulsion at the northern Alberta sites should
not change the 2013 production forecast, Canadian Natural
Resources Ltd said on Thursday.
The Alberta Energy Regulator imposed the restrictions on the
two projects, which together produce about 100,000 barrels of
tar-like bitumen per day, after four spills of bitumen emulsion
at the sites this year.
The company said in a statement it is cleaning up the spills
-- the latest was on June 24 -- made up of water mixed with
bitumen and they do not pose a health risk.
"We are investigating the likely cause of the occurrence,
which we believe to be mechanical," Canadian Natural said in a
statement. "(We are) working with the AER to minimize the risk
of any future occurrences, we have made adjustments to our
current steaming strategy and monitoring programs."
The regulator ordered the company to accelerate its clean-up
effort at the spill sites and restrict the amount of steam being
pumped into the oil sands reservoir.
The two projects use the high-pressure cyclic steam
stimulation method to produce bitumen. Steam is pumped into a
well for an extended period to liquefy the reserve. The bitumen
is then pumped out using the same well.
Canadian Natural shares rose 55 Canadian cents to C$33.92 on
the Toronto Stock Exchange on Thursday.