STOP: Stop Tar Sands Operations Permanently

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Tar Sands Go Nuclear

Posted by mhudema on July 13, 2008

TAR SANDS GO NUCLEAR!!!

While the idea has been discussed and debated since the oil sands has come into existance, it looks as though Alberta’s oil sands could finally be turning to, of all things, nuclear power to satisfy the outrageously large demand for electricity. The ambitious project, spearheaded by the local subsidiary of a mega-conglomerate, is focused on loosening up large quantities of bitumen encased in limestone. As usual, both investors and environmental activists looking for up-to-the-second facts and opinion are turning to the blogosphere.

NEI Nuclear, a well-respected blogthat offers news and commentary on the commercial nuclear energy industry, observes that while the idea of nuclear power in the oil sands has been considered before, “[it] looks like this is an idea with some staying power.” NEI Nuclear has been chronicalling the goings-on in the oil sands and has seen its fair share of smoke and mirrors in regards to nuclear energy powering oil sands projects they seem confident that the big name involved in the concept indicates that action could be close at hand. The difference? “This time, the name involved is Royal Dutch Shell.”

NEI Nuclear also quotes an older post of theres from December in which they quote Canada’s Natural Resource Minister Gary Lunn saying that he’s “very keen to see a new partnership between Crown corporation Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL) and a private Alberta company to build a Candu-reactor to power oilsands extraction.”

Traditionally, oil sands projects have been fuelled by large quantities of natural gas. However, the amount of electricity required for Royal Dutch Shells’ proposed project involves so much power, that the profit margin would be negated under current circumstances. Current estimates are that 60% of operating costs associated with an oil sands facility go directly to costs associated with natural gas.

Green Car Congress, well-respected for their opinionson green issues, has taken their research a few steps further, reporting that “Shell, through Calgary-based subsidiary Sure Northern Energy Ltd., paid the Alberta government C$571-million to acquire exploration rights 100 kilometers west of Fort McMurray.”

The Energy Bloghas a slightly different take on the matter in their latest blog post, quoting an item from World Nuclear News. “Energy Alberta is searching for communities to host the province’s largest power station to provide emission-free power for oil sands projects. The company plans to build a C$6.2 billion ($5.6 billion) 2200 MWe twin Candu reactor plant in northern Alberta, and is looking at the town of Whitecourt among others. “

It seems like everybody plans to make cash from chaos in the oil sands and you can bet that investors and environmentalists will be paying attention to the goings-on in Northern Alberta for some time to come. As always, the best way to get the widest range of informed opinion is to keep an eye on the blogosphere.

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