Forests and Biodiversity

Cameron ready for Alberta tour

EDMONTON -- Environmental groups are hoping their message about Alberta's highly talked-about oilsands industry will be heard by a famous Hollywood movie director.

James Cameron, who's directed blockbuster flicks like Avatar and Titanic, will be visiting Fort McMurray, Fort Chipewyan and Edmonton between Monday and Thursday this week.

The movie director, who has openly criticized the controversial industry, has meetings slated with oil company executives and will be getting tours of oilsands operations. He will also speak with leaders in aboriginal communities in northeastern Alberta.

A Wednesday meeting with Premier Ed Stelmach, however, is still listed tentative, says Jerry Bellikka, a spokesman with the premier's office.... Read more »

Athabasca says revenue to start in 2014

Canada's Athabasca Oil Sands Corp. expects to start generating revenue in 2014 when its MacKay River project begins production, the company's chief executive said.

The project, in which Athabasca Oil Sands has a 40 per cent stake, is a joint venture with PetroChina and has the potential to produce 160,000 barrels a day.

The company, which has more than 685,000 hectares of oilsands leases and permits in the Athabasca area, has about six properties in the area, including Hangingstone, Birch, MacKay and Dover West.

Athabasca is looking for more joint-venture partners, mainly for the Birch and Hangingstone projects, said Sveinung Svarte, who has been CEO since the company began operations in 2006.... Read more »

Alberta to review oilsands water data

Oilsands water-monitoring data from government and academic studies will be reviewed by a committee of independent scientists, the Alberta government announced Friday.

The panel will be made up of experts recommended by Alberta Environment and University of Alberta water expert David Schindler. The government is now in the process of contacting people and hopes to announce the committee in two weeks.

“Understanding the impact of the oil sands industry on the watershed of northeastern Alberta is absolutely critical," Alberta Environment Minister Rob Renner said in a release.

"We need to have total and complete assurance in data before we make decisions on how best to balance environmental protection with development."... Read more »

Alberta premier ready for his close-up with Cameron

EDMONTON — A face-to-face meeting between Premier Ed Stelmach and Hollywood honcho James Cameron appears to be on track.

Cameron is planning a three-day visit to northern Alberta next week to help him form his own conclusions about the impact of oilsands operation, which he previously called a “black eye” on Canada’s environmental record.

In a letter to the premier’s office sent two weeks ago, Cameron asked for a meeting with Stelmach at the legislature between 10 a.m. and noon next Wednesday. But since the letter arrived, representatives for the two men have had trouble connecting to firm up details.

James Cameron... Read more »

Suncor milestone ‘unbelievable accomplishment’

Fort McMurray — Suncor Energy marked an industry milestone Thursday when it became the first oilsands company to complete the surface reclamation of a tailings pond at its plant and mine north of Fort McMurray.

“It is a big historic event for the whole history of this industry and the history of Suncor,” Suncor CEO Rick George said at a ceremony marking the event.

Called Pond 1, the 220-hectare site near the Athabasca River was the company’s first storage pond for tailings when commercial production began in 1967.

George said the chief goal in the early years of Suncor’s operation was to efficiently mine the technologically challenging resource but that reclamation of the site was always part of the plan.... Read more »

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