Alberta regulator reconsiders Suncor oil sands expansion
(Bloomberg) – The Alberta Energy Regulator is reconsidering approval of a plan allowing Suncor Energy Inc. to extend its Fort Hills oil-sands mine into nearby wetlands after pressure from an environmental group.
The AER in September approved Suncor’s plan for protecting certain portions of the McClelland Lake Wetlands Complex, a necessary step for allowing mining to expand in the area. The agency said in an email that it’s now reconsidering that approval.
The Alberta Wilderness Association had asked the regulator to revoke the permission after finding deficiencies in Suncor’s plan that pose “a serious risk” to the wetlands.
Suncor hasn’t been told whether authorization would be reconsidered, Leithan Slade, Suncor spokesman, said by email. The plan for the wetlands was “the result of years of work informed by a Sustainability Committee struck in 2005, including representatives of local Indigenous communities.”
Located in northern Alberta, Fort Hills is Canada’s newest oil-sands mine. The site began operation about five years ago and produced about 164,000 bpd last year, AER data show.
The Alberta Energy Regulator is facing increased federal oversight and a third-party review of its response to a tailings-pond leak at Imperial Oil Ltd.’s Kearl oil-sands mine that was criticized by local indigenous communities.