Suncor Energy (TSE:SU) to work with regulator after tailings pond plan is turned down

Canadian energy company Suncor Energy Inc (TSE:SU, Mkt cap 68.61B, Div/yield 0.32/3.11, EPS 0.25, Shares 1.67B) has pledged to work with the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) after its oilsands tailings pond retirement plan was rejected.

The application, which was submitted in April 2016, is a requirement under the Government of Alberta's Tailings Management Framework.

The regulator announced on Friday that the company's fluid tailings management proposal for its northern Alberta facilities did not satisfy regulatory requirements and it must submit a new plan.

Suncor had proposed to treat about 75% of its fluid tailings in a new dedicated disposal area using in-line flocculation followed by water-capping. However, in a four-page letter explaining its decision, the AER said that the company did not provide enough information about the associated risks, benefits and trade-offs.

This means that the regulator cannot properly assess whether the water-capping technology will result in an aquatic ecosystem in the time predicted.

Where unproven technology is proposed, applicants must consider alternatives. But the AER again said that Suncor did not provide "adequate information". Similarly, not enough evidence was provided with regard to its "ready to reclaim" criteria, which are expected to address a deposit's physical properties and environmental effects.

New rules introduced by the AER last year require all tailings ponds to be removed within 10 years of the end of a mine's life, according to the Canadian Press.

Suncor said that it will continue to work with the regulator "in order to move the regulatory process forward".

Suncor Energy Inc. (TSE:SU) is a Calgary, Alberta based integrated energy company. The Company is focused on developing Canada’s petroleum resource basin, Athabasca oil sands. The Company operates in three business segments: Oil Sands, Exploration and Production, and Refining and Marketing. The Company’s Oil Sands segment includes Oil Sands operations and Oil Sands ventures operations. Its Exploration and Production segment consists of offshore operations off the east coast of Canada and in the North Sea, and onshore assets in North America, Libya and Syria. The Company’s Refining and Marketing segment is engaged in Refining and Supply, and Downstream Marketing. In addition, the Company explores, for, acquires, develops, produces and markets crude oil and natural gas in Canada and internationally. The Company also transports and refines crude oil, and markets petroleum and petrochemical products primarily in Canada. More from Reuters »

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