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Conservative Members of Parliament Brian Jean, right, and Ed Komarnicki vote in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa June 14, 2012.CHRIS WATTIE/Reuters

The Conservative MP representing the oil sands has resigned, saying he'll return to the private sector later this month.

Brian Jean, 50, has represented the riding of Fort McMurray-Athabasca and its predecessor since 2004, serving most recently as a backbencher. He announced Friday it was the "right time to move on."

"I've spent the past 10 years fighting for the priorities of Northern Albertans in Ottawa and now I feel I'm needed more right here at home in Fort McMurray," he said in a statement.

He said the "decision has not been an easy one," and thanked his family, staff and Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Mr. Jean is a lawyer by trade, and a business owner in Fort McMurray. He said he hoped to spend more time with his family. "I feel ready to step aside and allow someone new to take on the job knowing that I am passing it on in great condition," he said.

Conservative nomination races are starting to heat up in Alberta, as incumbent MPs launch nomination bids to run again for the party in the 2015 election.

Mr. Jean's resignation, effective January 17, leaves a second by-election looming for Alberta. Ted Menzies had earlier resigned the southern Alberta riding of the Macleod for a private sector position. Both seats have long been Conservative strongholds.

Mr. Jean's statement Friday outlined a series of infrastructure projects that have taken off in the riding as oil sands production boomed. He served as a parliamentary secretary to the transport minister from 2006 to 2011.

The resignation triggered well-wishes Friday evening. Prime Minister Stephen Harper's office sent out a written statement, thanking Mr. Jean and outlining his committee work in Parliament. "Laureen and I would like to extend our personal best wishes to Brian in all of his future endeavours," the written statement, attributed to Mr. Harper, said.

Conservative Party Executive Director Dimitri Soudas thanked the MP on Twitter. "We will miss your energy and dedication," he said.

Also on Twitter, B.C. Conservative MP Mark Warawa called Mr. Jean "an incredibly intelligent MP that was respected by all colleagues," while Liberal MP Ted Hsu wrote that he enjoyed debating Mr. Jean during committee meetings. "Good luck with whatever [is] next," he said.