Canada eyes more Athabasca oil sands work

Jan. 2, 2013 at 9:47 AM

EDMONTON, Alberta, Jan. 2 (UPI) -- A Canadian energy company expects a regional regulator to sign off soon on an $802 million oil sands development project in Alberta, an executive said.

Black Pearl Resources Vice President Ramesh Varadarajan said the company has awarded engineering contracts for an extraction project in Alberta that could develop as much as 80,000 barrels of oil sands per day.

He said Alberta's Energy Resources Conservation Board is expected to approve the project by early next year and put the estimated cost at around $802 million, the Platts news service reports.

Black Pearl in November said it received approval to expand its pilot program at the Athabasca oil sands development in Alberta province during the first quarter of the year.

So-called oil sands in Canada make up the third-largest source of oil after Saudi Arabia. The crude oil type is controversial because it may be more corrosive than conventional crude oil. It's heavier than water, making potential cleanup operations difficult.

Royal Dutch Shell in August said it has produced 500 million barrels of oil from the Athabasca region since work began in 2003.

The Canadian government is pressing for energy diversity programs that expand its oil sands consumer base beyond the United States.

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