Oil boon still possible for La Loche

by Phil Ambroziak

La Loche Mayor Georgina Jolibois believes it will only be a matter of time.

Even though Oilsands Quest Inc. – an Alberta-based company interested in developing Saskatchewan’s first commercial oil sands discovery – is currently experiencing a financial setback, Jolibois doesn’t believe this will have an overall impact on the benefit the company’s initial plans could still have on her community.

“Oilsands Quest Inc. has been very good to us,” Jolibois said. “They set up an office here and in spite of everything that has happened, at least one person is still employed at that office. Even under the circumstances, the relationship is still there. Certainly any kind of growth they experience will prove beneficial for us.”

The oil sands were discovered in 2006 and Oilsands Quest soon got down to business with a drilling program. This was followed by plans for a multi-billion-dollar oil sands project, with start-up scheduled in the near future.

Three major areas filled with bitumen (the heaviest, thickest form of petroleum) were located at Wallace Creek, Axe Lake and Raven Ridge and, by setting up shop in La Loche, the potential was there to create local jobs and, in turn, an economic windfall for the community. Before the pilot project could go any further, however, the company ran out of funds. Efforts were made to raise the money, but eventually Oilsands Quest was forced to file for bankruptcy protection. Oilsands Quest president and CEO Garth Wong was unavailable for comment, but reports indicate he is hopeful an ongoing sales process could breathe new life into Saskatchewan’s untapped oil sands industry.

“I’m optimistic they can pull through this,” Jolibois continued. “They’ve been really good working with us and they continue to do that.”

If Oilsands Quest is unable to solve its current financial crisis, reports state it will be liquidated.

“Even if it isn’t Oilsands Quest, based on what I have learned, I’m pretty confident another company will come along,” Jolibois said. “There is enough oil here, something has to be done. Whatever happens, it should be an absolute benefit to the community.”

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