Canadian Consulting Engineer
Panel approves $8-billion Horizon oil sands projectEngineering
A joint federal-provincial environmental review panel issued its final report on the proposed $8-billion Horizon oi...
A joint federal-provincial environmental review panel issued its final report on the proposed $8-billion Horizon oil sands project in Alberta last week. The panel allows the project to go ahead providing the owners meet 17 conditions.
The Canadian Natural Resources Limited (CNRL) Horizon project is proposed for 70 kilometres north of Fort McMurray in Alberta. The Calgary-based company wants to build an oil sands mine, bitumen extraction plant and upgrader that will ultimately produce approximately 37,000 cubic metres of upgraded bitumen per day. Construction is scheduled to start in 2004, with initial production in 2007 and full production by 2011.
The joint review panel was formed by the Alberta Energy and Utilities Board and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency. During hearings last June and July it heard representations from First Nations and other groups concerned about the environmental impacts of the project and the socioeconomic impacts of the rapid industrial development.
In order to proceed with the project CNRL has to fulfil the 17 conditions. For example it has to submit detailed plans about the overburden disposal areas, the impact on a pit wall adjacent to the Athabasca River, details on the impact of depressurization and injection on aquifers, and modifications to the existing tailings plan “to ensure a trafficable landscape, rapid progressive reclamation and to eliminate the need for long-term storage of fluid tailings.”