FORT MCMURRAY, AB, March 31 /CNW/ - Syncrude today announced a series of
measures aimed at improving its waterfowl protection systems in advance of
this year's spring migration period.
The changes are in response to what was learned from the unexpected
conditions surrounding the April 2008 incident, when a large number of
waterfowl landed on Syncrude's Aurora settling basin. The birds drowned after
becoming coated in residual bitumen floating on the water surface.
"The drowning of the waterfowl last April shouldn't have happened and is
unacceptable," said Syncrude's President and CEO Tom Katinas. "There is
tremendous resolve in our organization to learn from this experience and help
ensure it does not happen again."
Syncrude's internal investigation showed significant migration had
commenced even though local natural water bodies were still largely frozen,
making the Aurora settling basin one of the few landing options for the
waterfowl. In addition, Syncrude's deployment of deterrents was hampered by an
extremely severe late spring snowstorm the week before the incident.
Consequently, Syncrude has made changes to its waterfowl protection plan
to deal with unexpected weather and migratory occurrences.
The new system will see year-round deployment of deterrents on the
settling basins in areas that aren't frozen. In addition, the system includes
an enhanced monitoring system, pre-deployment of shore-based deterrents in
advance of spring break-up, and an increase in the number of deterrents by at
least 30 percent. This improved system is already in operation.
Alberta Fish and Wildlife officials and Syncrude initially estimated 500
waterfowl were involved in the incident. In the weeks that followed, the birds
later returned to the surface, where staff collected, counted and reported the
numbers as part of the government's investigation. The Crown prosecutors have
agreed Syncrude can release the final bird count, which is 1,606.
"Everyone at Syncrude understands that our stakeholders expect the very
best from us when it comes to protection of wildlife," said Katinas. "We
regret what happened last year and recognize it was completely unacceptable.
That's why we are taking steps to improve and meet the very high standards of
both our regulators and our many interested stakeholders across Canada."
The Syncrude Project is a joint venture operated by Syncrude Canada Ltd.
and owned by Canadian Oil Sands Limited, ConocoPhillips Oilsands Partnership
II, Imperial Oil Resources, Mocal Energy Limited, Murphy Oil Company Ltd.,
Nexen Oil Sands Partnership, and Petro-Canada Oil and Gas.
Trading Symbols for Public Syncrude Joint Venture Owners:
Canadian Oil Sands Trust COS.UN - TSX
ConocoPhillips Oilsands Partnership II
(wholly owned by ConocoPhillips) COP - NYSE
Imperial Oil Resources IMO - TSX/AMEX
Murphy Oil Company Ltd. MUR - NYSE
Nexen Inc. NXY - TSX/NYSE
Petro-Canada PCA - TSX/PCZ - NYSE
For further information:
For further information: Alain Moore at (780) 790-6406 or (780)
714-7783, Mark Kruger at (780) 970-6902 or Syncrude's website at