Suncor Energy is unveiling its newest oilsands project north of Fort McMurray.
The Calgary-based company officially cut the ribbon at Fort Hills on Monday with Premier Rachel Notley, Minister of Natural Resources Amarjeet Sohi, and Suncor CEO Steve Williams in attendance.
The site has been in the works for roughly 16 years, first getting approval in 2002.
Speaking to reporters, Williams said it could be almost as long before they would even consider opening a mine of this size again.
“I think this concept of big greenfield type mines, like Fort Hills, there won’t be quite so many of those in the future. I don’t see Suncor making a major mining investment for the next 10 years.”
He notes the company will continue to look at creating mines around their current ones, Millennium, Steepbank, and now Fort Hills.
Suncor’s new site is currently producing around 150,000 barrels per day and will eventually ramp up their production to 194,000 bbls/d. The site achieved its first oil in January.
Minister Sohi says this site proves that the oil sector will continue to see great days moving forward.
“Look at the work that is being done building this facility, creating thousands of jobs, and also reducing the environmental footprint of the oilsands development.”
At peak construction, the project employed around 7,900 people. They now employ roughly 1,400 people who will work directly within the site.
Trans Mountain Pipeline
Fort Hills’ grand opening was overshadowed by the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project.
The project was put on hold after the Federal Court of Appeal found the National Energy Board made a ‘crucial error’ in its application and that the Government of Canada didn’t fully consult with Indigenous groups.
Notley ensured Albertans that a timeline would be made in the coming weeks and not months.
“That was the request that I made and that was a pretty clear response by the Prime Minister – they understand too that this has an incredible chilling effect on economic confidence in the country.”
The province is also looking at the federal government to appeal the FCA’s decision even though this could result in a longer wait time for the project.
Meanwhile, Sohi says the federal government is focused on dealing with the issues brought forward by the FCA.
“We want to do it in a way that allows us to move forward on this project in the right way – I think our best interest and the best interest of the public will be served once we get this project completed.”
– With files from Brandon Piper