Consul General makes first visit to the oil sands
1 October 2012
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!