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Alberta Energy Regulator restricts river water use by oil sector, cites drought

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EDMONTON — The Alberta Energy Regulator is restricting how much water oilsands and other energy projects can withdraw from part of the Athabasca River and other rivers in the province.

It cites dry weather and low flow conditions for its decision that suspends water withdrawals under some temporary diversion licences.

AER spokesman Jordan Fitzgerald says licensees will need to look for alternative water sources.

The temporary licence suspensions affect companies that operate in the Upper Athabasca River basin.

Oilsands giant Syncrude Canada Ltd. and many other major oilsands firms operate in the Lower Athabasca region.

The AER is also encouraging oil and gas operators to voluntarily reduce their water consumption from rivers with lower than normal streamflows that are not covered by mandatory restrictions.

Temporary diversion licences are issued for a maximum of one year and are normally used for drilling fluid, dust control and bridge washing.

The AER is also suspending some licences granted to energy companies to divert water from the North Saskatchewan, South Saskatchewan and Peace rivers.

“The AER is working with Alberta Environment and Parks to monitor water flow in Alberta’s rivers and will lift the restrictions when river flows return to acceptable levels,” the regulator said Monday in a release. (The Canadian Press, CHQR)

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