Image courtesy of Royal Dutch Shell/Flickr.

Royal Dutch Shell pulled its regulatory application for the long delayed Pierre River Mine oil sands project Tuesday to “focus attention on its existing oil sands operations.”

The proposed 200,000 barrel per day project was set to be located  north of Fort McMurray, Alberta.

“The Pierre River Mine remains a very long term opportunity for us but it’s not currently a priority,” Shell Canada president and executive vice president of heavy oil Lorraine Mitchelmore said.

The company proposed the Pierre River project in 2007 and initially planned to start production in 2010.

Work on the project was halted last year so that Shell could reassess its development schedule.

Shell said it has existing regulatory approval and scope to potentially more than double its oil sands production from its current level of 255,000 bpd.

Shelving the Pierre River Mine project is expected to have a “very limited” employment impact.

“Our current focus is on making our heavy oil business as economically and environmentally competitive as possible. We will continue to hold the leases and can reapply in the future when the time is right,” Mitchelmore said.

Last month Shell said it will cut up to 300 jobs at its Albian oil sands project in Alberta.

The Anglo-Dutch supermajor said it will get rid of 5 to 10 percent of the 3,000 jobs at the project and will try to place laid off workers in other positions in the company.

A Shell official said the cuts are not tied to weak oil prices.


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