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Total to tap into Canadian oil sands

Dec. 17, 2010 at 6:47 AM

CALGARY, Alberta, Dec. 17 (UPI) -- French supermajor Total signed an agreement with Suncor energy to exploit oil sands locked in the Athabasca region of Alberta, Canada, the company said.

"Total E&P Canada Ltd. and Suncor Energy Inc. have signed several agreements to form a strategic oil sands alliance encompassing the Suncor-operated Fort Hills mining project, the Total-operated Joslyn mining project and the Suncor-operated Voyageur upgrader project," the French company declared.

The Voyageur project could have the capacity to produce as much as 200,000 barrels of oil per day once engineering designs are updated next year. The Joslyn project could mean more than 100,000 bpd to the market by 2017 once all permits are granted, the company said.

"This collaboration will allow us to strengthen our portfolio of Canadian oil sands assets, opening new opportunities to develop this strategically important energy resource," Yves-Louis Darricarrere, president of Total Exploration and Production, said in a statement.

The Athabasca deposit is one of the largest oil sand reservoirs in the world. Researchers at the University of Alberta in an August study determined that oil sands mining is polluting the Athabasca River with metals known to be toxic at even low concentrations.

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