Reactions mixed to approval pause for shallow oilsands drilling in Alberta | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Reactions mixed to approval pause for shallow oilsands drilling in Alberta

An oil sands facility seen from a helicopter near Fort McMurray, Alta., on July 10, 2012. Environmental groups are giving Alberta's energy regulator a rare pat on the back over its decision to delay approvals for certain types of oilsands projects over concerns about the intensity of development. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
March 13, 2014 - 11:02 AM

EDMONTON - Environmental groups are giving Alberta's energy regulator a rare pat on the back over its decision to delay approvals of certain types of oilsands projects.

The Alberta Energy Regulator announced in January that it will hold off approving new projects that involved drilling into shallow bitumen reservoirs in a vast area around Fort McMurray.

The regulator says development has become so intense in the area that it has become concerned about the overlying rock's ability to keep bitumen from rising to the surface.

Erin Flanagan of the Pembina Institute says the pause will give the regulator time to review its requirements for ensuring new developments are safe.

But some of the five companies affected by the delay wonder if it is necessary.

Howard Lutley, president of Silver Willow Energy, says the so-called caprock is well understood and that procedures have improved significantly since a 2006 blowout at one project.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2014
The Canadian Press

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