Nexen Delays Decision on Start of Alberta Oil Sands Project

Nexen has delayed decision for the start-up of its C$3 billion Alberta oil sands project until February. The company says that the development remains on track. Nexen's Long Lake, Alberta, project had been expected to go before the board for approval before the end of this year.

"Ideally, it would have been before the end of the calendar year, but really there's no difference here," said Kevin Finn, spokesman for Nexen. "You've got to understand this is a major project and there are going to be bumps along the way, but one thing that we're absolutely determined is that we will not trade off cost for schedule." The company's board is expected to rule on the project, which has regulatory approval, on Feb. 14, Finn said.

Nexen and OPTI Canada are 50-50 partners in the development, which will involve pumping steam underground to loosen the tar-like bitumen in the oil sands, allowing it to be pumped to the surface in wells. The companies plan to pump 60,000 barrels a day from Long Lake starting in 2007 using new technology to upgrade the bitumen into refinery-ready light crude.