EnCana Corp. (TSX:ECA) and ConocoPhillips (NYSE:COP) are seeking approval to more than double the capacity of their joint Christina Lake oilsands venture in Northern Alberta. In documents filed with Alberta Environment, the firms say they want to expand Christina Lake’s current 98,800-barrels-per-day production limit to 218,800 barrels per day in three phases over a decade. “The reason we filed that document is because it’s a long process to get regulatory approval and we seek regulatory approval ahead of when we decide to invest the capital,” said EnCana spokesman Alan Boras. There is already a lot of room for growth at Christina Lake, which currently produces about 18,000 barrels per day — far below what the government has already approved. Construction is underway on a 40,000-barrel-a-day expansion. The firm has regulatory approval for a third 40,000-barrel phase, but its board has not yet decided on whether to give it the go-ahead. “Whether that gets approved or not will be dependent on what we see is the outlook for prices, markets and all of those things,” Boras said.
EnCana has submitted its proposed terms of reference to the Alberta regulators for an environmental impact assessment. Comments to Alberta Environment are open until April 17.