Overlooking Wapisiw Lookout, the first tailings pond in the oilsands industry reclaimed to a solid surface. Image: Deborah Jaremko/JWN

Here’s a look at the top 10 most viewed articles on jwnenergy.com over the last year.

10. (October 2017) What the first reclaimed oilsands tailings pond looks like after seven years of growth


Image: Deborah Jaremko/JWN

In 2010, Suncor Energy became the first oilsands mining operator to successfully reclaim a tailings pond to a solid surface. It was, in fact, the first tailings pond in the industry, opened along with the original operations of Suncor predecessor Great Canadian Oil Sands in 1967.

Tailings Pond 1 became Wapisiw Lookout, named for the Cree who first introduced bitumen to European settlers. JWN visited Wapisiw Lookout in September 2017.

9. (February 2017) 11 recent oilsands project updates show restarts, cancellations and a new kind of growth


Image: Cenovus Energy

Oilsands producers have been making moves with their projects as the lower-for-longer oil price environment stabilizes into the new normal.

In early 2017, it was clear that some were pushing forward with projects that were well advanced before the price collapse, while others were choosing to cancel and still others were moving ahead with a new approach to growth that focuses on optimization.

8. (December 2016) All First Nations crossed by Trans Mountain pipeline route in support of project: Kinder Morgan


Kinder Morgan Canada president Ian Anderson. Image: Business in Vancouver

In December 2016, Kinder Morgan announced that 51 Aboriginal communities had signed mutual benefit agreements with the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion valued at more than $400 million.

This includes all of the First Nations whose reserves the pipeline crosses and about 80 percent of communities within proximity to the pipeline right-of-way, the company said. The 51 agreements include 10 in Alberta and 41 in B.C.

Kinder Morgan Canada president Ian Anderson said in a statement that the company had "worked very hard to establish a relationship built on respect, trust and openness."

7. (May 2017) Alberta has requested a detailed proposal for Sturgeon Refinery Phase 2


Image: Deborah Jaremko/JWN

As construction of the Sturgeon Refinery progressed towards completion in spring 2017, the company behind the facility said it had been asked by the Government of Alberta to submit a detailed proposal for public involvement in the project’s second phase.

The project has regulatory approval for three 50,000 bbl/d phases; the first phase produced its first diesel from synthetic crude oil in November.

Alberta is a partner in the $8.6 billion first phase, which will receive 75 percent of its bitumen feedstock through the government’s royalty-in-kind program and 25 percent from partner Canadian Natural Resources.

North West Refining chairman Ian MacGregor has argued that a delay in moving ahead with the second phase would lead to potentially costly re-engineering as well as construction job losses at the site northeast of Edmonton.

6. (April 2017) 10 photos of the Fort Hills oilsands mining project as construction approaches completion


Image: Suncor Energy

Official first oil is expected to announced imminently at the oilsands industry’s newest mining project, just the sixth to be undertaken in 50 years. Located 90 kilometres north of Fort McMurray, Fort Hills is a fly-in, fly-out construction site.

Suncor Energy and its partners sanctioned the project, which now carries a capital cost of $17 billion, in fall 2013. The company released a number of photos of the facility in April.

5. (September 2017) Praise heaped on Seven Generations as $510,000 raised for new Grande Prairie hospital


Rendering of the Grande Prairie regional hospital. Image: Dialog Design

One of the largest Montney oil and gas producers was praised in Grande Prairie in September after a golf tournament hosted by the company raised $510,000 to support a new regional hospital that is under construction.

The new fundraising effort bring the total amount raised by 7G to more than $1.7 million in five years.

"I've never witnessed a charity tournament like this,” Keith Curtis, executive director of the Grande Prairie Regional Hospital Foundation, said in a statement.

4. (July 2017) Supreme Court of Canada confirms First Nations have no veto power over resource projects


Image: Kinder Morgan Canada

Two Supreme Court of Canada decisions issued on July 26 made it abundantly clear that, while the federal government has a duty to consult, that does not mean that First Nations can veto a pipeline project.

In one ruling, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that regulators like the National Energy Board (NEB) can represent the federal Crown in executing the duty to consult First Nations, but that those consultations must be real, not lip-service.

In another ruling, the court affirmed that, provided consultations are adequate, First Nations don’t have the legal authority to stop developments in their territory.

3. (October 2017) Husky applies for $400 million new thermal oilsands project


Image: Joey Podlubny/JWN

Husky Energy filed regulatory applications in October for a new 10,000 bbl/d steam-based oilsands project south of Fort McMurray.

Called McMullen Willow Creek, the project would use low-pressure cyclic steam stimulation technology, where single horizontal wells act as both steam injectors and bitumen producers.

Construction is expected to start in 2019, followed by first steam in 2022.

2. (June 2017) Keyera to proceed with new $470 million gas complex near Grande Prairie


Image: Keyera Corp.

Keyera Corp. announced in June it would move ahead with the first phase of its Wapiti natural gas gathering and processing complex south of Grande Prairie, Alberta for $470 million.

The sanctioning was made possible after Keyera finalized area dedication agreements and long-term take-or-pay commitments with its primary customer (not named), which was the main obstacle delaying Keyera’s positive final investment decision.

1. (January 2017) ‘Tsunami’ of oilsands turnarounds on the way as deferred work gets caught up


Image: Joey Podlubny/JWN

Major capital projects in the oilsands are not the only investments that have taken a hit in the low oil price environment.

While there is no evidence that producers have deferred production outages required for regulatory inspections, a significant amount of maintenance has been delayed over the last two years, resulting in accumulated work that Asset Performance Canada managing director Mike O’Kane described in January 2017 as an oncoming tsunami.

This could become challenging in a market where turnaround costs are already high.