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Legal Guide

Alberta’s oil sands contain one of the largest known proven crude oil reserves in the world, containing an estimated 167.9 billion barrels. Canada’s total proven oil reserves rank third globally, behind only Saudi Arabia and Venezuela.[] Alberta’s oil sands are contained in three major areas of northeastern Alberta: Peace River, Athabasca and Cold Lake, which comprise a total area of approximately 140,800 square kilometres. The world’s first oil sands production began north of Fort McMurray in 1967. It is only in the last few decades, as technology has improved, that production has rapidly expanded. Oil sands production is expected to triple by 2035, increasing its share to 86 percent of Canada’s total oil supply, up from 57 percent in 2012.[] Oil sands extraction and production uses a wide scope of complex and innovative mining and production techniques and assisted gravity drainage (SAGD). In situ techniques are employed to extract oil from the nearly 80 percent of the oil sands which are too deep below the surface for open pit mining. Construction and development of oil sands projects have been of unprecedented size and scope in recent years as oil sands production progressively overshadows conventional onshore production outputs.

The primary legislation governing oil sands projects in Alberta are the Mines and Minerals Act and the Oil Sands Conservation Act; however, projects will often require approvals under other legislation as well, such as the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act and the Water Act. As of October 2009, any applicable LUF must also be considered.

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“Oh, what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.”

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In an interesting decision, the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario has ruled that an employer is not liable for discriminatory and harassing texts sent by a rogue employee to another of its workers.

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