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Suncor Gets Alberta Approval for 40,000-Bpd Oil Sands Project

Suncor has received the approval of the Alberta government for its Meadow Creek West oil sands project that will produce 40,000 bpd of crude, Canadian media report.

Meadow Creek West is being developed by Suncor alongside its twin project Meadow Creek East. Meadow Creek East, Suncor says, will have a nominal production capacity of 40,000 bpd but it could be boosted to twice that at some point. Both projects are seen to have productive lives of at least 40 years.

Now that the company has the approval of the provincial government, it could begin the permitting process. However, it will be a while before it makes the final decision on Meadow Creek West: it said on its website it has deferred this decision to 2023 at the earliest. The reason for the postponement is that Suncor is now focusing on expanding production at its already operating projects as this is less costly than starting up a whole new project.

The approval of the Meadow Creek West project comes as many in the industry await with bated breath Ottawa’s decision on another oil sands project. Teck Resources’ Frontier oil sands project, valued at some $15.7 billion (C$20.6 billion), will produce some 260,000 bpd of crude oil at peak rates and will have a productive life of 40 years.

The federal government should announce its decision for the project by the end of this month, although the federal Environment Minister last month suggested in a comment that the government could choose to delay the decision.

“Cabinet can make a decision to approve, it can make a decision to reject, it can make a decision to delay,” Jonathan Wilkinson said in late January.

The government is being torn between the interests of Alberta, a major contributor to the country’s GDP and the province where the Liberals lost all seats last year because of their anti-oil policies, and the green lobby, which insists on the Trudeau cabinet taking its emissions commitments more seriously.

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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