Prospective project area. Photo submitted
Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. (CNRL) held an Open House at the Heinsburg Community Hall, providing information about their upcoming proposed project to landowners and lake lot owners near Laurier Lake on November 7. “No application has been filed yet. We plan to apply for a primary recovery scheme approval or down-spacing application near Laurier Lake. Currently we are allowed to drill one well per quarter section, and the application would allow us to drill eight wells per quarter section (subsurface: 500 metres below the surface). What that gives us is the ability to locate the bottom-hole targets more effectively to recover the heavy oil resource,” said Steve Lepp, Director of Surface Land and Stakeholder Relations for CNRL. According to Lepp, this is the start of a two to three year process, and they have provided information to all lake lot owners and landowners in the area including a buffer zone. After they apply, CNRL will notify everyone, and they will have a 30-day public notice period for people to address any remaining concerns with the Alberta Energy Regulator. “The turnout has been excellent. We have a lot of existing activity in the area already and we enjoy maintaining those relationships. We are confident that we can work with everyone and look forward to it for sure,” said Lepp. Throughout the day, people had the opportunity to visit stations gathering information about the project including the application process, operations, safety, and environment. Lake lot owner, Heather MacMillan said, “We are absolutely against the proposal for environmental reasons. We were disappointed with the format that the open house was delivered. Though we appreciate CNRL’s professionalism, we would have preferred a question and answer form.” Dean McMullen said that he was concerned for the prospective oil spills, safety, and clean-up. “It’s quite frustrating because it depends on who you talk to. One time we were told they would not drill under the lake, but we are not sure how it will stand up or that slants will not be used,” said McMullen. “I think that the perception of drilling horizontal or slant wells under the lake is a very big concern for people. CNRL is the fourth owner of the mineral rights in the area, and we are looking for them to find spacing between wells and no down-holes near or under the lake. We were told they would use an alternate route for traffic, but would like to see them use the existing pads. We were told eight wells per quarter, but the plan they provided shows a maximum of 16 wells per quarter. The information provided doesn’t take away the anticipation that they will damage the environment, the lake, and the real estate value. As well, there are potential dangers with children, boaters, and traffic in the area. People were very civil at the open house, but it’s not as if they are talking to people who are against the oilfield,” said Steve West who was the Minister of Energy for four years. Overall, there seemed to be a mixed feeling about whether this application would be positive or negative.
Andre Campeau, Operations Superintendant for the Bonnyville District. Photo Angela Mouly