Nexen charged after oil sands explosion deaths

Article by Neil Clark

CANADA’s Alberta province has brought eight charges against Nexen Energy after an on-site explosion killed two oil sands workers in 2016.

The charges, made under Alberta’s Occupational Health and Safety Act, include failing to ensure the health and safety of the workers, and failing to ensure that compressor equipment was serviced in accordance with the manufacturer’s specifications.

Spokeswoman Nicole Appleton told Reuters that each count carried a fine of up to C$0.5m (US$0.4m) and/or up to two years in jail. She said that the charges are against Nexen, and could not immediately specify those who could face jail time.

The incident occurred on 15 January 2016 at a hydrocracker unit on Nexen’s Long Lake facility. Drew Foster was pronounced dead at the scene and David Williams later died in hospital.

In July 2016 Nexen said in a press conference that the employees caused the accident, as they were found to be working outside the scope of their approved maintenance duties. However, the company, which is a Calgary-based subsidiary of Chinese oil giant CNOOC, did not specify what the workers did wrong, and why they were not working on their assigned tasks.

A first court appearance is scheduled for 14 February in Fort McMurray provincial court.

Article by Neil Clark

Staff Reporter, The Chemical Engineer

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