City Council is asking the Government of Alberta for some clarity on why little progress seems to have been made on a major oil sands expansion project in the region.
“We have heard that there has been no movement on Imperial’s Cold Lake expansion project in the last year and a half,” Mayor Craig Copeland said. “This project is vital to our region, which has been hard hit by the lingering economic downturn. We are asking for the status of the project and what our government can do to help this file along.”
It is the City of Cold Lake’s understanding that Imperial’s Cold Lake expansion project completed its environmental impact assessment in 2015 and has been awaiting regulatory approval since March 2016. Statements of Concern filed with the Alberta Energy Regulator must be dealt with before final approval can be given.
“We’ve heard that no statements of concern have been handled since early 2016, except for a couple that have been withdrawn by the people who filed them,” Copeland said. “With new, high-paying jobs at stake, we find it hard that so little progress could be made on this file. Our council is seeking a deeper understanding of why we are not hearing about any positive progress on this project.”
The Cold Lake expansion project is expected to produce about 50,000 barrels of bitumen each year and will create approximately 100 full-time positions for the duration of its operation. About 500 jobs would be created during the two- to three-year construction phase.
Imperial currently produces about 160,000 barrels of bitumen a day at its Cold Lake operation, which is a major employer in the region.
The community expected an announcement on the project this summer and grew increasingly concerned when none was made. Copeland noted that there is a fear in the community that if the project is stalled, the investment will leave not only the community, but possibly the province, or even the country.
“This expansion project would be a massive boost to our economy in northeastern Alberta,” Copeland said. “All eyes here are on this project, yet it has escaped every announcement made about the economy, jobs and industry. We need to hear something about this project because, in our area, a lot of hopes are resting on finally hearing some good news.”