Category Archives: Industry

More Ducks Land on Oil Sands Leases – News Sources You Should Follow

Well, the investigations are under way and the information is slowly making it’s way out about landings by waterfowl on multiple oil sands sites.

News sources to follow while this story continues to evolve are:

And while not a link to a news source, here is a link to the Federal Migratory Bird Act (if you were interested).

From a communications perspective, it’s going to be interesting to see how industry, government, non-government and the public react.

From a political/policy/regulations perspective, it’s going to be interesting to see how this plays out.

From my own personal point of view, this sucks.


Did I miss some news sources you think should be on the list? Let me know, post a comment below or grab me on Twitter at @myoilsands

A Response To A Reader

This is a response piece to “ditch_witch” on, who replied to a post I made there. You can read the piece here.

Posted on MyMcMurray:

Thank you for responding Ditch_Witch – conversation around topics as important as the environment & industry need to happen. All opinions need to be properly expressed and shared in order for the right, and informed, decisions to be made. So thank you for sharing your thoughts – I can see that you are quite passionate about the topic.

I thought about ending my reply there…. but I did write some points down, and they can be found on my blog here: Please take the points as you wish. Continue reading

CEMA Online – A Social Website?

CEMA Logo - property of CEMA

property of CEMA

On the 5th of August, the Cumulative Environmental Management Association released a new website –

What’s CEMA you say? Well, their mission statement says:

“CEMA is a multi-stakeholder society that is a key advisor to the provincial and federal governments committed to respectful, inclusive dialogue to make recommendations to manage the cumulative environmental effects of regional development on air, land, water and biodiversity.”

After the website announcement, a few tweets flitted back and forth amongst the oil sands tribe, and then the very next day, Carol Christian of the Fort McMurray Today published an article entitled “Environmental agency embraces social media”.

Oil sands plus social media? You have my attention.

Continue reading

Who Should be Tweeting About #YMM and the #OilSands

Timberlea Community

courtesy of Gord McKenna

Thanks to those on Twitter for their suggestions as to “Who Should be Tweeting About #YMM and #OilSands“. 13 people or organizations have been identified, including Mayor Melissa Blake, Suncor CEO Rick George and the RCMP, though I’m sure there are a few more floating out there.

This post has been broken down into three areas: Regional, Industry & Could Be Better – find the full list after the jump.

Continue reading

Suncor Close to “Significant Breakthroughs” Regarding Environmental Impacts

Suncor logo, property of Suncor Energy Inc.

property of Suncor Energy Inc.

The Edmonton Journal reported on April 30th that Suncor is not only investing more than a billion dollars (yes, that’s $1,000,000,000.00 +) to address environmental impacts, but that CEO Rick George is looking for “constructive dialogue on greening our economy and the energy that fuels it.”

“One of Canada’s top oil and gas companies says it’s on the verge of significant breakthroughs in addressing environmental concerns at its oilsands operations, but is calling for a serious conversation about the country’s energy strategy.” Read the full article @ the Edmonton Journal

Suncor has been working on a new tailings strategy – Tailings Reduction Operations (TRO). All signs point towards this technology playing a large part of Suncor’s plans to “significantly reduce the need for ponds to store mine tailings.” [source]

From Suncor’s Tailings Management section:

“Suncor recognizes the importance of addressing the tailings challenge associated with the development of oil sands mines. Oil sands mines produce tailings — left over material produced during the extraction process that separates bitumen from the oil sand. We have developed a new tailings technology called Tailings Reduction Operations (TRO) that’s a significant advance in tailings management and reclamation. We believe TRO will help us meet provincial regulatory requirements and, just as importantly, the changing expectations of our stakeholders.”

What are your thoughts on the matter?

New Kid On The Block – Alberta Is Energy

Alberta Is Energy logo, courtesy of

property of

You know what? This post was originally going to break down the new Alberta is Energy website… I was going to go through the site and comment on all the sections, what this particular area had to offer, what this one says… But I took a look at all of my notes and stopped. I stopped because I was, on the whole, disappointed.

Instead, I have provided a screencast of the site which you can find at the bottom of this post.

It’s My Own Fault

But perhaps I have no one to blame but myself. Maybe I am not the audience Alberta is Energy is trying to reach… when I took all of 10.3 seconds to quickly see the site on the 6th, I saw three things:

  1. A flashy site with lots of smiling people
  2. A green “Energy” within the site logo
  3. Social media buttons (Facebook and Twitter etc.)

In my mind I had built up my vision of what this site would (or should) be. And, when I started digging around, I found I was wrong.

What It Is

Alberta Is Energy web site

screen shot is a brand new online resource (launched on April 6th, 2010) brought to us by a collection of energy industry partners and does not appear to be directly supported by the Alberta government.

It seems to be a place for people to come and see how amazing energy in Alberta is. To see how the economy in Alberta is reliant on energy, to see how many people make their living through energy and to see how many spinoff industries are supported by energy.

It is also set up to be a forum where we Albertans (and presumably others) can discuss how much we love our province and the impact that energy has on us.

I agree with all of the above.

What It Isn’t

It isn’t a response to our biggest critics. It doesn’t address responsible energy development. It doesn’t try to bring a balanced point of view on the oil sands, an industry that has been described as “the most destructive project on earth.” There’s an Action Centre, but I’m not sure what “action” I’m supposed to take… Based on the content of this site, am I supposed to take action against all those who think Alberta is *not* about energy? I don’t think there are many people out there who would argue.

(perhaps it shouldn’t be a response to our critics at all… there are other industry-driven attempts to put the record straight out there after all.)

It isn’t a platform for open dialogue. There is an attempt to embed social media, such as Twitter and Facebook, and there is a forum for you to see “what other Albertans have to say about their province and their sector. This is the place to discuss our past and present, and shape our future.” But I’m not sure how effective these attempts will be.

A Public Sphere – Sign Up, But Be Careful What You Say

Let’s look at the forum first, an area that I have a few questions about. The first question, why do I have to create an account to post – why can I not use my Twitter or Facebook account to sign in? Social media sites have bent over backwards with publicly available APIs to allow easy posting across the web.

Make it easy and people will be more likely to post. Who wants to remember another username and password? Another benefit for this is that whenever I post to under @MyOilSands, I automatically tweet about the post and potentially drive my followers to the site. That’s a good thing. (The service has embraced this method – just see how easy it is to sign in to their site.)

Another question I have revolves around the 551 words within the Terms and Conditions of the forum. I can fully understand why the lawyers made an argument for such an agreement, and I can also understand that industry execs are scared to do anything without their lawyers, but it does nothing to encourage open dialogue. Something like this will scare off many digital enthusiasts to other communities that rely on self-regulation for control. If the goal is to have frank discussions… well, it’s not going to happen here.

There’s a lot of language in the T&C that are scary enough, take a read if you’d like, but one that jumps out at me is this: “…otherwise in violation of any International or United States Federal law.” What about Canadian law? Don’t we rate at least a mention? (there’s probably a reason – like the forum software/service is actually based out of the States etc. and the T&C are taken from their service. But that’s just a shot in the dark.)

Social Media

Social Media Watercolours - courtesy of mfinleydesigns

courtesy of mfinleydesigns

There’s an attempt to embrace social media here, and I love it. I do.

I love the idea of industry engaging in two-way communications with the public. This is what we need. However, the site and its respective social media cousins are new and are missing content. I’m positive the folks behind the scenes will no doubt be making improvements to their Facebook and Twitter accounts (like adding a URL to their @AlbertaIsEnergy account). But, as mentioned before, they should completely integrate social media into the login/forum process for it to be effective.

There’s a YouTube account linked to the site, with one lonely video of a pumpjack. Alas, the expensive-looking “Alberta is Energy” video in the Video Centre is not on YouTube, so I can’t comment on or rate the video. I would love to be able to point out how many Fort Mac shots there were in the clip (Sawridge, OSDC, Shell on Franklin/Hardin etc.)… so I’m looking forward to accessing and interacting with more content in the future.

(Here’s nice little article from Fast Company regarding, “The Five P’s of Social Media–Where Do You Start?”, which gives a rundown on effectively using social media.)

It’s Not Easy Being (Orange &) Green

And what do I think of the colour scheme used on the site? Well, aside from thinking NDP, the use of green in the logo and throughout the site is an interesting choice. I love both colours, orange and green are great, and I can see why they chose them.

The sprinkles of green though… well, lot’s of organizations are jumping on using green in their advertising and public relations campaigns. Is it greenwashing? Not sure. Would I feel better if there was more information of responsible energy practices in Alberta? Yes. Perhaps they have such information (like water use and reclamation) waiting in the wings – the site has after all, only been active for less than a week.

So What Was I Expecting?

Dirty Oil - courtesy of ItzaFineDay

courtesy of ItzaFineDay

Let me make one thing clear: both industry and government have lost control of Alberta’s brand – particularly around the energy sector (read: tar sands). Opponents to the oil sands have done an effective job at getting their message across to the world. And their message? It’s simple and clear: oil sands = dirty oil.

As production and income levels from the oil sands continue to rise, so too does the reliance of Alberta’s economy on “unconventional oil”. A target on the oil sands is a target on Alberta.

This is the message we need to counter. And this is what I am still looking for.

Alberta Is Energy Screencast

Industry is seeing value, where investors are not

Reuters has an article that highlights the difference between the investments made by industry vs investor confidence in the industry itself.

There’s no question that Alberta’s huge unconventional crude deposits hold some of the richest potential for supplying North America and even Asia with oil. Investors don’t seem to care right now.

Read the full article @ Reuters