David Pryce, with the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, reacts to the Alberta government's announcement of a new land-use framework that will come into effect beginning on September 1 at the Alberta Innovates Technology Futures building in Edmonton, Alberta on August 22, 2012.
Credits: IAN KUCERAK/QMI AGENCY
EDMONTON -- The new regional land-use pumps up the volume for environmental conservation, but may be a pain in the oilsands for Alberta's energy industry.
The Lower Athabasca Regional Plan (LARP) announced Wednesday sets aside two million hectares of Alberta -- that's three times the size of Banff National Park -- for six new conservation areas. The preserves will displace 19 oilsands developments.
The Crown will be revoking tenure in a few of the reserved areas for several companies, said David Pryce, operations vice-president for the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers.
The affected companies will negotiate with the Crown, he said. Up for grabs, the tens of millions of dollars they've spent to acquire tenure and exploration rights -- development, reclamation, interest.
What doesn't get addressed is the booked value in company shares that are based at least in part on where that company has exploration already underway.
For a small company that has done seismic surveys and exploratory drilling in territory that's now off-limits, that could be significant, Pryce said.
"Their share prices reflect the idea they intended to develop that resource," he said.
The Wildrose Party sees the LARP as a plank in their platform, proof that Premier Alison Redford has ignored Albertans' concerns about property rights and broken her promise to strengthen protection for landowners.
As the first of seven central planning documents approved under Bill 36, the Alberta Land Stewardship Act, it rescinds several existing lease agreements.
MLA Shayne Saskiw says LARP's centralized planning approach shows Tory efforts to placate landowners over Bills 19, 24, 36 and 50 were empty rhetoric.
"Albertans told this government loud and clear to repeal the bills. Instead, they're steamrolling ahead," Saskiw said.
Wildrose Sustainable Resource Development Critic Pat Stier said Wildrose supports measures to protect Alberta's air and water quality, but the provisions in the LARP are a clear shot across the bow at landowners across the province.
Stier said pending central plans -- such as the South Saskatchewan Regional Plan -- will directly affect more individual landowners, their businesses and their property.
"If this government is cancelling leases for oil and gas companies, what chances do farmers and ranchers have of standing up to them?"