Osum Talks Taiga at Open House

Posted: Dec. 10, 2009

By Tom Stoukas

Osum held an open house at the Riverhurst Community Centre on Dec. 3 to discuss the company’s proposed Taiga project. Dozens of people were in attendance including Cold Lake Mayor Craig Copeland along with city and MD councillors.

The company is in the early stages of filing its environmental impact assessment with Alberta Environment and the Energy Resources Conservation Board (ECRB).

[Click here for a recap of the evening with photos]

Once completed, the report will go to regulators and stakeholder groups to examine and ask questions.

Brad Braun, Osum’s manager of environment and stakeholder relations, said the process should take a few months to answer any questions raised about the project. The Taiga project is located between Primrose Lake and Cold Lake off Highway 897. Osum said Taiga has the potential to produce 35,000 barrels per day for up to 30 years.

The company said it will use the same techniques as other area producers including steam assisted gravity (SAGD) and cyclic steam stimulation (CSS) to extract oil. Osum said it will use brackish water unfit for human consumption to produce the large amounts of steam needed in the oil recovery process.

Taiga is Osum’s second attempt to develop an oil operation in the area after its proposed Marie Lake lease was withdrawn by the province in 2007 after an outcry from residents living near the lake who were worried about seismic testing near or under the lake.

Cottage residents of North Bay, just south of the Taiga lease, have contacted Osum expressing their concern over the project’s impact on Cold Lake and the surrounding area including increased traffic, dust, noise, flare lights along with the project’s proximity to the lake.

Many of the cottages in the North Bay area have been passed on to family members for decades and residents fear the development will threaten the serenity of the cottage community.

Braun said it would be “naive” to think Taiga won’t have an environmental impact, but he assured the dozens of people in attendance that the company will keep that impact to a minimum.

“When you look at noise, once you get a half a kilometre away, in most instances you’re back to a background noise level,” Braun said. “Where folks’ cabins are, you should never hear it.”

Residents in North Bay also expressed concern about the effects of Taiga on Cold Lake.

“There’s a lot of geology between what we are chasing and anything in terms of where your groundwater wells are or the lake,” Braun said. “The lake is 100 metres deep and we’re another 400 metres below that and we’re not under the lake. There’s 400 metres of geology in between there.”

Braun said Osum will keep in touch with area residents who may have questions as the environmental impact assessment makes its way through the regulatory process.

“We’ve done modelling and testing. We’re very confident folks in the area really aren’t going to see, hear or smell much of anything that we’re doing out there,” Braun said.

Osum said the company hopes to have regulatory approval for the Taiga project by 2011 with bitumen production targeted for 2014.

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