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2012

Consul General makes first visit to the oil sands

1 October 2012
Consul General Kujawinski at the oil sands.

Consul General Kujawinski at the oil sands.

On October 1, U.S. Consul General Peter Kujawinski made his first visit to the oil sands. Following is a first-hand account of his trip.

I joined members of Ports to Plains, a U.S.- headquartered transportation/rural issues advocacy group on a tour of the oil sands. The trip focused on Syncrude mining operations. Syncrude is a consortium of several large oil companies, and its massive Mildred Lake facility includes mine operations, utilities co-generation, bitumen extraction and upgrading factories. Flying overhead, the facility looked large but not overwhelmingly so. It’s only on the ground that the enormous scale snaps into focus. Multi-million dollar dump trucks carry hundreds of tons of oil sand at a time, and their wheels are about three times the size of a human being. One fact about the Syncrude facility struck me the most: it never shuts down. The facility operates 365 days a year, 24 hours a day. The tour guide said working on Christmas Day took some getting used to, but now it feels normal. It was truly an eye-opening experience!