Loading articles...

Courts give Alberta 10 days to decide on Rigel project

Last Updated Feb 18, 2020 at 5:14 pm MDT

IMAGE. Supplied by Prosper Petroleum Ltd.

The Alberta government has 10 days to decide on the proposed Rigel bitumen recovery project near Moose Lake.

Justice Barbara Romaine of the Court of Queen’s Bench in Calgary granted the injunction filed by Prosper Petroleum.

In her summation, the Calgary judge said the average project takes an estimated seven months to receive approval or denial.

Prosper asked the justice to force the United Conservative government to make a decision on the proposal first submitted around seven years ago.

Traditional territory and Treaty rights

This comes following the announcement of planned discussions between Alberta and the Fort McKay First Nation on protecting the Moose Lake area.

Proposed near Moose Lake, Rigel received approval from the Alberta Energy Regulator in June 2018.

The project would produce 10,000 barrels per day of steam-driven bitumen and reside nearly 70 kilometres northwest of Fort McMurray.

Prosper President Brad Gardiner said the project is salvageable, but they are running out of time.

“This has been a very slow, frustrating process. But at least we know 10 days from now we’re going to have a decision, positive or negative, but at least we’ll have a decision.”

Standing outside the courthouse, Gardiner added it costs Prosper more money the longer they wait.

“That’s why we pressed for getting a decision as quick as possible. In our evidence, we said we need to have a decision by the end of February or we’re going to miss a third winter construction season.”

However, both the Fort McKay Métis and the Fort McKay First Nation opposed the approval of the AER.

Chief Mel Grandjamb and the First Nation’s Moose Lake Plan call for a 10-kilometre zone around Moose Lake, which they call the territory’s last significant wilderness area.

An agreement to protect the area was reached under former Alberta premier Jim Prentice.

However, the government never ratified the deal.

Last week, they received support from the Athabasca Tribal Council.

The Fort McKay First Nation also went to court asking that approval be overturned.

This report includes excerpts from Bill Graveland of the Canadian Press.