ARCHIVED - Announcement: Completion of an Important Milestone for the Joslyn North Mine Project (Oil Sands)

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Notes for a Speech by

The Honourable Joe Oliver, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Natural Resources

Completion of an Important Milestone for the Joslyn North Mine Project
(Oil Sands)

December 8, 2011
Ottawa ON

Check against delivery

Thank you for joining me this afternoon for an important announcement that means jobs and growth for Canada.

I'm pleased to announce that the environmental assessment has been completed on the Joslyn North Mine Project, a major new investment in Canada's oil sands. There remains a two-week consultation period with local First Nations regarding implementation. 

Joslyn project

We've been looking forward to this day for quite awhile, and it's been worth waiting for.

Total E&P Canada expects that its Joslyn North Mine will create, at its peak, 4,100 construction jobs and 16,500 person years of direct construction employment. After construction is complete, it will create another 1,300 direct operational jobs for Canadians. All told, this project will mean as much as $9 billion in new capital investment in Canada.

The project will generate more than $10 billion in revenues for the governments of Alberta and Canada over the next 40 years. These revenues will pay for important social programs such as health care and education and benefit all Canadians.

Those kinds of numbers remind us just how much the oil sands mean to this country — and how important it is that we continue to work to make sure we can attract investors like Total and its partners to develop this tremendous resource.

Oil sands

And the oil sands are a tremendous resource — giving Canada the third-largest proven oil reserve in the world — a world that will continue to rely on oil as its primary source of energy for many decades to come.

That's the reality. While renewable energy is the fastest growing source of energy, in forecast after forecast the International Energy Agency predicts that oil will be a dominant fuel far into the future.

That means the oil sands are more than an economic resource. It is a strategic resource that will make Canada an increasingly significant contributor to North American and global energy security and economic stability.

We are the biggest single supplier of oil to the United States, and there are enormous opportunities to diversify and expand our markets. I made an official visit to China and Japan a few weeks ago, and I can assure you, both countries are keenly interested in our oil and gas.

Oil sands benefits

For Canadians, the oil sands are more than energy.

Currently, the oil sands provide direct and indirect jobs for about 390,000 Canadians. Over the next 25 years, they are expected to provide jobs, on average, to 480,000 Canadians per year. And this figure will grow even more as supporting distribution networks and pipelines are built. This means hundreds of thousands more Canadians will be able to buy a home and support their families.

And the oil sands will help to pay for the schools and hospitals and other services those families need — providing government with tens of billions of dollars in royalty and tax revenues.

The benefits are felt right across the country. The oil sands support jobs for 35,000 people in Ontario, over 8,000 in Quebec, and hundreds more in the Atlantic provinces.

The oil sands are generating jobs in just about every sector of our economy — from welders to office workers to engineers.

Competitive regulation

But we cannot take these jobs for granted. Oil sands development does not just happen. Investors have other opportunities.

Our government is committed to making Canada one of the best places in the world to invest.

We have among the lowest tax rates for new investment in the G-7.

Our financial sector is the strongest in the world.

We've put Canada at or near the top in just about every category — no wonder Forbes magazine recently named Canada the best place in the world to do business.

But there is more to do. We need to bring our regulatory regime up to the same competitive standard. This is vitally important to our entire resource sector.

The Joslyn North project was first proposed nearly six years ago — nearly six years to work its way through our system of regulatory approval.

I have to commend the people at Total Canada for their perseverance. I'm not sure all investors would be as patient.

Regulatory improvement

The Joslyn project is a telling example of the need for a more efficient and effective regulatory system.

Improving the performance of our regulatory system has been a priority for our government from the beginning, and we've made a number of improvements to ensure more timely and predictable reviews.

In 2008 we created the Major Projects Management Office, the MPMO. It's been very successful in eliminating unnecessary federal delays in the regulatory process. In Budget 2010, we introduced some key, targeted changes to the Canadian Environment Assessment Act.

While the Joslyn project review pre-dates some of these improvements, more needs to be done. It is crystal clear that we need to put an end to unreasonable delays — delays that can jeopardize the viability of projects like Joslyn and harm our reputation as an attractive place to do business.

In particular, definitive timelines from the beginning to the end of the regulatory process are needed to improve the timeliness and predictability of the regulatory environment and to support investment and planning decisions.

There’s still too much duplication. And I'm pleased to say my provincial counterparts agree — regulatory reform is a must. 

Last July, at the annual Energy and Mines Ministers’ meeting in Kananaskis, Alberta, we agreed as governments to work with industry to tighten timelines, reduce duplication and make other regulatory improvements for resource projects while maintaining strong environmental protections.

We will ensure meaningful consultation with Aboriginal communities.

And, we will remain focused on the ultimate regulatory innovative goal — “one project, one review.”

Responsible development

In advancing this goal we are committed to providing an innovative, effective and efficient regulatory regime in which all stakeholders can have confidence.

This particular project also represents our Government’s objective of responsible, sustainable development. Jobs and economic growth don’t need to come at an environmental cost. In this instance, measures will be in place to mitigate environmental impacts in the region and to ensure the conservation of species in the area. This is important to us, to Total and to all Canadians.

Because of this important work, the assessment of a major resource project will always take time — due diligence always does. But it does not need to take anywhere near six years.

Greenhouse gas emissions per barrel of oil produced have been reduced by almost a third. Most of the water used in the oil sands is recycled — up to 90 percent. Land is now being returned to a natural state in a matter of years rather than decades. Oil sands companies that compete against one another in the market are working together in the lab, sharing technology and information to develop new ways to manage tailings, for example.


The oil sands themselves must be recognized as a very substantial economic and strategic asset in Canada’s national interest — an asset expected to add $2.3 trillion to Canada's Gross Domestic Product over the next 25 years.

That's an average of more than $100 billion a year — a significant contribution to our prosperity as a nation — prosperity this Government cannot and will not ignore.

We are committed to welcoming investors like Total E&P Canada, who will help to ensure the full potential of the oil sands is realized — for Canadians, and for the contribution Canada is making to global energy security and stability.

Thank you.