Slowdown an opportunity to assess oilsands

CALGARY — The federal environment minister says the economic slowdown provides a perfect opportunity to take stock of future oilsands development in Alberta.

CALGARY — The federal environment minister says the economic slowdown provides a perfect opportunity to take stock of future oilsands development in Alberta.

“Effectively, because of the economic circumstances we’re in, we’ve had a de facto moratorium on oilsands development because of the nature of the economy,” Jim Prentice said Tuesday.

“I think this is an opportunity for us to take stock to make sure that all of the projects are being thoroughly reviewed, that it’s being done in a sustainable way and that we have all of the requisite due diligence in terms of the environment.”

As the economy has struggled around the globe, energy prices have fallen, and the frantic pace of oilsands-related development has been mostly in a holding pattern since last fall.

Many of the more than $80 billion in projects planned for Upgrader Alley near Edmonton to process raw bitumen have been delayed indefinitely and oilsands developers are expecting to cut project spending by $97 billion.

It’s a different scenario than even a year ago when a booming Alberta was criticized nationally and internationally for the frantic pace of oilsands expansion in the area around Fort McMurray. There were questions from opponents about whether the government had lost control of development, criticism from environmentalists about effects on wildlife and rivers and concern from the oil city that infrastructure was not keeping pace with a burgeoning population of workers and their families.

Canada is the biggest exporter of oil to the United States and a lot of it comes from the sticky oilsands which have reserves that are second in size only to Saudi Arabia’s.

“It’s … important to note that this is a strategic resource for Alberta, for Canada, and it is a resource that we need to develop and will develop,” said Prentice. “But we have to be the most environmentally responsible producers of energy in the world so this gives us some time to do that and I believe that is the right thing to do.”

The Alberta government has rejected suggestions that the growth rate in the oilsands was too fast.

Premier Ed Stelmach acknowledges that the recession is giving his government time to build new infrastructure such as roads and waste treatment facilities in Fort McMurray. But he said the slowdown isn’t presenting any other advantage that he can see.

“The slowdown has occurred dramatically,” Stelmach said. “We’re working very closely with industry but the fact is there is a considerable slowdown — and you’ve seen it in share prices in the number of companies there.”

Just Posted

Red Deer student excels: 11 year old hosts fundraiser to help kids

A Red Deer student is like most students, with a few exceptions:… Continue reading

Survey suggests many Red Deer-area employers ready to hire in early 2019

Red Deer-area employers expect a hopeful hiring climate in the first quarter… Continue reading

Experts offer tips about how to prevent online ad spoilers during the holidays

Looking to prevent your Christmas surprises from being spoiled by online ads… Continue reading

Fast-expanding seafood giant joins Irvings, McCains as N.B. business royalty

FREDERICTON — For the Irvings, it was Bouctouche. For the McCains, Florenceville.… Continue reading

Dumba scores twice, Wild rout Canadiens 7-1

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Reeling and banged up, the Minnesota Wild were… Continue reading

Coach Hunter wants up-tempo Team Canada as world junior squad hits ice

COLWOOD, B.C. — Team Canada coach Tim Hunter says the team that… Continue reading

Study finds female-led films outperform male ones

NEW YORK — A study organized by Time’s Up, the organization formed… Continue reading

Price Is Right contestant wins winter trip to Winnipeg, Churchill

WINNIPEG — Who wants to visit Winnipeg in the dead of winter?… Continue reading

CBC Gem streaming service to launch exclusive content, partners with Wattpad

TORONTO — The CBC has launched a new streaming service featuring live… Continue reading

‘Part of the solution:’ Alberta seeks proposals to build new refinery

EDMONTON — Alberta is looking for someone to build a new oil… Continue reading

Online ads spoil Christmas surprises, raising privacy concerns: experts

Lisa Clyburn knew she had found the perfect gift for her nine-year-old… Continue reading

Sebastian Giovinco, Jonathan Osorio and Adriana Leon up for top CONCACAF awards

Toronto FC’s Sebastian Giovinco and Jonathan Osorio are up for CONCACAF male… Continue reading

Most Read