OIL SANDS DEVELOPMENT RIDES ROUGHSHOD OVER PROTECTED AREAS S

OIL SANDS DEVELOPMENT RIDES ROUGHSHOD OVER PROTECTED AREAS S

Postby Oscar » Fri Dec 12, 2008 5:48 pm

MEDIA RELEASE 27 March 2008 For immediate release

ENVIRONMENTALISTS CALL FOR FREEZE ON OIL SANDS EXPLORATION PERMITS


The Saskatchewan Environmental Society has called on the Minister of Environment to undertake a Strategic Regional Environmental Assessment of the watersheds of the Clearwater, Descharmes, Firebag
and Richardson Rivers in north western Saskatchewan before any further permits are issued for exploratory drilling or seismic work related to oil sand development.

A major oil sands project would have very serious impacts on water and air quality in northwestern Saskatchewan, while also significantly increasing Saskatchewan's greenhouse gas emissions. It makes sense to assess the capacity of the local and regional environment to sustain such projects before continuing to issue more and more exploration permits. It concerns the Society that no publicly accessible ecological baseline study of the region has been carried out.

While we have been told that an environmental impact assessment will be required if a development proposal is advanced, it is reasonable to assume that the capacity of this landscape to absorb the impact of such development should be carefully examined before the companies are encouraged to invest heavily in exploratory work. Rather than just looking at the impact on a project-by-project basis, a Strategic Regional Environmental Assessment would examine the potential impacts of the whole policy and program to conduct oil sands development in this region.

Even exploratory work, when conducted on a large scale, requires a thorough environmental assessment before being permitted. This has not taken place. The exploratory work now being undertaken in the pristine northwest region can have significant, long-term impacts. It appears inevitable that wildlife habitat is already being disrupted by thousands of kilometres of seismic line-cutting that is criss-crossing an area where regeneration is slow, opening up human access corridors throughout the region. Already hundreds of exploratory wells are being drilled and heavy motorized traffic is being introduced into previously quiet, natural environments.

Saskatchewan does not want to repeat Alberta's mistakes when it comes to the destruction of the natural environment from oil sands development. Careful assessment of the capacity of the natural environment to sustain such development is a good first step to avoiding serious damage.

The Society’s letter to the Minister is attached.

Contacts: Ann Coxworth, (306)665-1915, Program Coordinator
Peter Prebble, (306)665-0085, Director, Energy and Water Policy
Attachment: Letter to Minister Heppner
============================================

PRESS RELEASE For immediate release December 1, 2008
December 1, 2008

OIL SANDS DEVELOPMENT RIDES ROUGHSHOD OVER PROTECTED AREAS SAYS PROVINCIAL ENVIRONMENTAL GROUP


The Saskatchewan Environmental Society is calling on the Provincial Government to exempt lands that merit protected status from further oil sands exploration and development.

Allyson Brady, Executive Director of the Society, said today that “valuable lands in northwest Saskatchewan that deserve the protection of the provincial government are being put on the auction block”. These lands have been identified as worthy of protection by the government’s own Lands branch who assessed them in consultation with Mistik Management (a forestry company in northwest Saskatchewan), the Saskatchewan Environmental Society, the Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation, the World Wildlife Fund and Ducks Unlimited.

Mistik Management has agreed to defer harvesting operations in these candidate protected areas. The next step in the process was to be extensive consultations with northern communities. Now the whole process of protecting these lands is being thrown into disarray by the oil sands auctioning process. Brady pointed to the “Dillon-Vermette” candidate protected site south and west of Peter Pond Lake, as an example. She has written to Premier Brad Wall asking him to save this site and pull it out of the oil sands land auction. Brady stated “the ‘Dillon Vermette’ site has important ecological features found only in this area
including a diversity of forest types, old forest, important riparian and surface water values, and significant archeological, traditional and social values.” The site was on the Lands Branch list for protection.

“The provincial Cabinet should not ignore the collaborative efforts of their own Lands branch, the forestry industry and environmental organizations to achieve protection of our most valuable resources” Brady said. “We strongly urge the Cabinet to remove the Dillon-Vermette candidate protected area and any other crown lands designated as potential candidate protected sites from sale for oil sands exploration purposes.”

-30-

For more information: Allyson Brady, Executive Director: 665-1915
Attached: map of candidate protected sites;
map of oilsands sale lands in Mistik forest management area
letter to Premier Brad Wall
PO Box 1372
Saskatoon, SK S7K 3N9
Resource Centre
203-115 2nd Avenue North
ph 306.665.1915 fx 306.665.2128
info@environmentalsociety.ca

============================================
November 25, 2008
Premier Brad Wall
Premier's Office
Room 226 2405 Legislative Drive
Regina SK S4S 0B3
premier@gov.sk.ca

Premier Brad Wall

The Saskatchewan Environmental Society was very pleased that, in May of 2008, a common agreement was successfully reached among the provincial government Parks Branch, Mistik Management, the Saskatchewan Environmental Society and fellow environmental organizations, on a suite of protected areas within Mistik forest license area. The Saskatchewan Environmental Society, Mistik and the provincial government were joined by the Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation, Nature Saskatchewan, Ducks Unlimited and the World Wildlife Fund to help determine critical sites for ecological protection. I was inspired by the efforts ands ability of these diverse groups to come to common conclusions on what lands are ecologically most important to protect.

These candidate protected sites are particularly crucial as many of the enduring features that we attempted to capture are either predominantly or almost exclusively in the Mistik Forest Management Area. These proposed protected sites must still go through important consultations with northern communities before final approval is given, but clearly a large amount of effort by volunteers and professional staff has been exerted to get to this stage.

Of great significance is that Mistik Management has agreed to defer harvesting operations in these candidate protected areas. You can therefore imagine our surprise and distress to find that Saskatchewan Industry & Resources has launched a land sale for oil sands on one of the most important candidate protected sites. The “Dillon-Vermette” candidate protected site has important ecological features found only in this area and encompasses many important attributes such as a diversity of forest types, old forest, notable riparian and surface water values, among archeological and traditional and social values.

Perhaps this is a simple misunderstanding - that the province has lost track of its varied initiatives, because I find it hard to believe that you would overturn one of your own endeavours, particularly one that had agreement from very diverse constituents. This land sale undermines our collaborative efforts and puts at risk sensitive and valuable ecological features in our forest.

It is this type of wrong step that caused the Saskatchewan Environmental Society to ask, 9 months ago, for the province to take a responsible role in development of the oilsands and not issue any further exploration permits until a Strategic Regional Environmental Assessment was done.

The Saskatchewan Environmental Society strongly urges that Dillon-Vermette candidate protected area and any other crown lands designated as potential candidate protected sites not be sold for oil sands exploration purposes.

We therefore ask on an urgent basis that you intervene to pull the Dillon-Vermette candidate protected site out of the oil sands land sale planned for early December 2008. A map showing the precise location of the site in question is attached.

Thank you for considering urgent action on this matter.

For a greener planet,

Allyson M. Brady,
Executive Director

cc: Chris Smith, Mark Kornder, Ducks Unlimited
James Snider, World Wildlife Fund - Canada
Larry Chambers, Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation
Mike Finley, Nature Saskatchewan
Al Balisky, Mistik Management Ltd.
Attachments: Candidate protected areas map
Oilsands land sale map

===================================

Oilsands Quest curtails northwest exploration

http://www.thestarphoenix.com/Business/ ... +curtails+
northwest+exploration/1060421/story.html

Company seeks flexibility in dealing with effects of stock market turmoil

By Joanne Paulson December 11, 2008

Oilsands Quest Inc. is scaling back some of its exploration activities in the oilsands-rich area of northwestern Saskatchewan and Alberta but is not laying off any staff, the company said this week.

Current capital and commodity market conditions -- in which stock markets are sinking and the price of oil has dropped to the $42 US per barrel range -- are causing Oilsands Quest to "curtail and or defer some of our expenditure plans for the remainder of the fiscal year."

Oilsands Quest plans to continue some of its activities at the Axe Lake project, where it is proving up the extent of the resource in terms of location, extent and quality. In particular, Oilsands will continue reservoir testing at its test site three.

"These activities will be undertaken with a view to maintaining maximum liquidity and matching the pace of our activities with available funding under current market conditions," said the company in its quarterly report.

The company will delay the startup of vertical well testing at its test site one at Axe Lake until the end of 2009 and delay exploration at the Eagles Nest and Wallace Creek areas. Test site two activities will also be put on hold. At that site, Oilsands Quest planned to test recovery processes using agents other than steam, such as hot propane.

Chris Hopkins, CEO and director of the company, said in an interview the report shows the company is "listening to the market and we're making those changes internally that give us the greatest flexibility to deal with the present market.

"We are in good financial shape with our programs funded for an extended period of time, until mid-2010 at least.

"We're still in business and accomplishing things. That was the message we wanted to deliver, first and foremost, that we're managing our affairs considering this incredible market that we're in.

"We're not going to spend valuable money today in an uncertain world if we can defer and gain better clarity on the markets," he added.

The exploration company had a net loss in the quarter ended Oct. 31 of $43.23 million, or 17 cents per share, compared to a net loss of $20.4 million or 12 cents a share in the same quarter of 2007.

At Dec. 1, the company held cash and short-term investments of $66.1 million in a mixture of Canadian and U.S. funds. The company had working capital of $58 million at the end of October.

Oilsands still has a significant exploration program underway, said Hopkins. An "aggressive" summer exploration program saw 33 holes drilled in Saskatchewan on oilsands and another 11 on the oil shales near Hudson Bay, as well as seismic work. All 11 shale holes successfully hit oil.

"We're going to continue with exploration spending over the winter but at a reduced pace."

Oilsands Quest's near future is not tied closely to the world oil price, since the company is not yet producing the commodity.

"The most significant impacts are attributable to the financial markets, where there is a lot of fear and uncertainty," said Hopkins.

Hopkins also stressed Oilsands Quest will keep on its sizable staff -- numbering more than 100 -- as exploration continues.

Oilsands Quest is traded on the AMEX exchange under the symbol BQI. The stock's 52-week high was $6.95, but it is now trading in the 85-cent range.
jpaulson@sp.canwest.com Copyright (c) The StarPhoenix
Oscar
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