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Shell forest to offset oilsands footprint

By Dave Cooper, Edmonton Journal April 10, 2012 2:06 AM

Shell Canada will buy 740 hectares of private land north of Grande Prairie in a venture with the Alberta Conservation Association (ACA), the oil giant announced Monday.

With a mix of woodlands, grasslands and wetlands along the Ksituan River, the site – now called the Shell True North Forest – is near the town of Spirit River, less than a kilometre south of Moonshine Provincial Park.

Previously used for grazing cattle and hay production, the land will be jointly managed to conserve biodiversity while allowing low-impact recreation, such as hiking and bird watching, the oil giant said in a news release.

“As oilsands reclamation takes decades to complete, conserving land allows us to address the impacts of our land disturbance in the short term,” said John Abbott, Shell’s executive vice-president for heavy oil. “Over the next decade, we plan to accelerate the pace of land reclamation at our mines and develop technologies to reduce future land disturbance.

“Including the Shell True North Forest, we’ve conserved land equivalent to nearly 14 per cent of our Jackpine and Muskeg River mines.”

The footprint of the active Jackpine oilsands mine near Fort McMurray is 4,300 ha. The nearby Muskeg River site is 5,696 ha. Shell also has significant SAGD (steam assisted gravity drainage) oilsands operations in the Peace River region. It intends to spend $2 million to buy land in conjunction with the ACA over the next 10 years.

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