Osum meets Cold Lake and MD councils to discuss Taiga Project

Osum Oil Sands Corp. visited the council chambers of Cold Lake and the MD of Bonnyville last week to talk to municipal leaders about its Taiga project, located near Cold Lake.

Osum president Steve Spence, Rick Walsh, vice president of projects and Brad Braun, Osum’s environmental manager, met with Cold Lake city council in the morning on March 18 and then travelled to Bonnyville for an afternoon session with the MD council.

Osum’s Justin Robinson said the meeting was initiated by the oil company to answer any questions the councils had about the proposed 35,000 barrels per day Taiga project.

“I don’t think it was really that special. Everything that we talked about is public information…. which is available online,” he said. “We went over the timeline, the environmental measures that we’re doing to reduce the impacts and then asked for feedback both in terms of what they needed from us and what they’re hearing.”

MD Reeve Ed Rondeau said he was satisfied with the presentation as well as some of the assurances the company offered.

“They showed us where their well pads are going to be. They said that there was nothing happening closer than 1,200 metres from (Cold Lake),” Rondeau said. “I asked them specifically if any of the horizontal wells were going to go under Cold Lake and they said ‘not even close’.”

Rondeau said he was impressed with the company’s plan to utilize pipelines to export oil from the area.

“They’re going to be piping their wells to their plant and from the plant they’re going to be piping their oil out so there’s not going to be trucking and that takes all those heavy trucks off our roads,” he said.

While updating council on Taiga, Rondeau said Osum also brought up the Marie Lake lease, which was withdrawn by the province in 2007 after an outcry from residents living near the lake who were worried about seismic testing near or under the lake.

“(Osum was) clarifying what they were not going to do. They’re trying to get that elephant off their back from Marie Lake,” Rondeau said. “(Osum) has gotten rid of that lease since then. It’s probably flagged and it will be a long time before anyone gets that lease again.”

Cold Lake Mayor Craig Copeland is a strong supporter of the Taiga project and its benefits for the city.

“They really stepped up for the community as a sponsor at a lot of events,” Copeland said.

City council may like the potential new jobs associated with the Taiga project, but there were questions about Cold Lake’s ability to provide services to new workers.

“Our Cold Lake oil sands are going to just continue to grow and for us, we just continue to get more and more people wanting to live in the Cold Lake area,” he said. “This is our dilemma that we’re having with the province. There needs to be a fair and equitable sharing of the resource assessment that’s created out here.”

If approved, Taiga is expected to create hundreds of construction jobs and around 40 permanent positions. Osum is hoping to receive regulatory approval for the Taiga project by 2011 with bitumen production targeted for 2014.

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