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Imperial can’t say how much water Kearl will use

The Canwest News Service reports this morning that, “Imperial Oil Ltd. is going ahead with…the $8-billion, 110,000-barrels-per-day first phase of its Kearl oilsands mine…”
“The first phase of the Kearl surface mining operation northeast of Fort McMurray is expected to begin production in late 2012, Imperial said. Kearl is to eventually be developed in three phases and could ultimately produce an average of more than 300,000 bpd of bitumen over a 50-year lifespan.”

“The project doesn’t include an upgrader, although one may be added with a later phase, but it will have tailings ponds to be used to store water used to separate the raw bitumen from the sands and transport it by pipeline. (Imperial spokesperson Gordon) Wong couldn’t say how much water the project will use.”

Is it really possible that Imperial has received all federal regulatory approvals without the question of how much water will be used by the Kearl project being answered? Or does the Imperial spokesperson just not want to say?

In that the production of 1 barrel of tar sands bitumen requires three to five barrles of water, we can estimate that this project will use 330,000 to 550,000 barrels of water per day in its first phase of production, then eventually 900,000 to 1,500,000 barrels of water per day as production increases.

The full article is at http://www.montrealgazette.com/Business/Imperial+approves+oilsands+mine/1628336/story.html.