On Sunday, November 3rd, I am heading to Fort McMurray, Alberta for a tour of the oil sands operations. Here are the details from the initial email that I received inviting me on the trip:
Each year, the Consulate General partners with other U.S. Canadian missions to organize a tour of Canada’s oil sands for American media, mainly from the East Coast – for reporters/writers/editors from traditional publications, as well as those from other, more specialized publications, such as Energy Trends Insider.
The trip will go through Edmonton and Fort McMurray, including visits of mining/in situ/refining operations, as well as the chance to meet federal/provincial/local government officials, business and private sector contacts, environmental groups, possibly First Nations representatives, etc. We will look at the full range of topics related to the oil sands and their place in the Canada/U.S. energy partnership, including economic growth/job creation/competitiveness, environment and climate change concerns, innovation and technological development, and energy security.
Among other things, we will tour in situ operations at Cenovus and mining operations at Canadian Natural Resources Limited. But we are also meeting with Pembina Institute (the major environmental NGO in Alberta) as well as Alberta Environment and Sustainable Development (covering air, land, and water regulations; as well as climate change and GHG issues).
So while this is obviously a tour designed to present the oil sands in a good light, they are also allowing us some access to environmental groups that I presume will present their finding and concerns.
I have a list of questions around water consumption, waste disposal, energy balance, land restoration, etc. But I wanted to open it up to readers as well. Are there particular questions you would like me to pose? Are there particular things you would like me to photograph or video? I will check the comments through early next week for incorporation into my visit.
I should have an article up with my observations late next week.