Three new oil sands projects approved in Alberta

Tens of thousands of barrels of new oil will flow for damaged provincial economy.
By Daniel J. Graeber Follow @dan_graeber Contact the Author   |   Sept. 16, 2016 at 6:02 AM
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EDMONTON, Alberta, Sept. 16 (UPI) -- Three new oil developments in the Fort McMurray area could add up to 95,000 barrels of oil per day to current output, Alberta's government said.

The provincial government approved three oil sands developments, two of which involved the use of steam stimulation. Collectively, the government said the projects represent about $3 billion in investments into Alberta's economy. They each fall under a new scheme aimed at limiting the amount of greenhouse gas emissions associated with oil sands developments.

"The emissions limit is the first of its kind set by an energy-producing jurisdiction," Environment Minister Shannon Phillips said in a statement. "It positions Alberta as an environmental leader while allowing room for development."

Alberta's economy is recovering after around 1 million barrels per day worth of oil production were sidelined in May by wildfires that ravaged the Fort McMurray area. The provincial government estimated a net fiscal impact of about $387 million from the wildfires, which at the time prompted the evacuation of least 80,000 people in the area.

BlackPearl Resources, which received approval for its Blackrod project in Fort McMurray, said it was vindicated by a "long and thorough review" process that showed its steam stimulation efforts would be a commercial success.

More than 12,000 barrels of the viscous form of oil found primarily in Alberta seeped from a steam-induced development in 2013, prompting the government to ban some of the processes temporarily.

In terms of emissions, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers said that, since 1990, the sector has spent more than $1 billion on technologies needed to produce oil with a lower environmental footprint. It said greenhouse gas emissions are 30 percent lower per barrel than they were in 1990.

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