Prosper Petroleum Ltd. will have to wait another month before learning if a judge will order the Alberta government to make a final decision on its long-delayed oil sands project.
Privately held Prosper had applied to the court to force the government to decide if it will uphold an approval given to the Rigel oil sands project by the Alberta Energy Regulator in June, 2018.
The Calgary-based company says it may not survive more delays before learning if it can construct Rigel, which faces opposition from the Fort McKay First Nation. Fort McKay has appealed the AER approval.
Alberta Justice Barbara Romaine adjourned the case until Feb. 12 to allow the provincial government to complete an affidavit and cross-examine the company on its materials.
Because of the adjournment, Prosper asked the judge to order Alberta Premier Jason Kenney’s government to either approve or reject the northern Alberta project within 10 days of a ruling, rather than the 30 days it had asked for if the case was heard on Tuesday.
“We were disappointed with the outcome,” Prosper chief executive officer Brad Gardiner told reporters. "We made this application because we are basically at the end of our rope. We’ve been waiting almost 19 months for an order in council for our Rigel project, and to be told we’re going to defer it again for another month doesn’t really do anything for us.
“Every day that it gets delayed it makes it more difficult for us to go out and raise financing to get this project to completion.”
Prosper has argued that the longest the government had taken previously to issue an order in council for an oil sands project is seven months. The current delay has spanned two Alberta governments – that of Premier Rachel Notley’s New Democrats and of Mr. Kenney’s United Conservative Party.
The Rigel project would produce 10,000 barrels a day near Moose Lake, about 65 kilometres northwest of Fort McMurray. Fort McKay says the project’s central processing facility is too close to two of its reserves. It has been seeking more protection for the regions for nearly two decades and has been working on a formal access plan.
Prosper’s partner in the project is a subsidiary of Lama Energy Group, based in the Czech Republic.
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