Mike Smith, P.Eng.
When a number of articles appeared in
local and national newspapers with headlines that indicated
that there had
been some “bad engineering” on mega-projects
constructed in the Fort McMurray oilpatch, APEGGA President
Mike Smyth, P.Eng., took exception. Although knowledgeable
in the area, but not directly involved with these projects,
Mr. Smyth decided to speak with some of the key players
to find out whether there is really any truth to this and,
if so, if there was any unskilled or unprofessional conduct
on the part of an APEGGA member or permit holder.
To date APEGGA has not received a complaint about either.
It didn’t take long to establish that there are
probably a host of factors that would combine to cause
such huge overruns in both cost and schedule. The challenge
is to determine not who is responsible, but what can be
done to ensure that future projects will not suffer the
same fate. More importantly, how can we give this reassurance
to the investors asked to put forward the $50-70 billion
it will take over the next 10 years to continue the development
of the oilsands?
“We have world-class engineering
and geoscience in Alberta”
The economic impact of these statements can be considerable
and there are already deferrals or slowdowns that may be
a direct result. The impact on the reputation of the APEGGA
professions can also be compromised by this.
Said Mr. Smyth: “We have world-class engineering
and geoscience in Alberta. The proof is in the fact that
these projects are up and running, in excess of their design
capacity, and making huge profits for owners and investors.”
APEGGA is working with the Alberta Departments of Energy
and Economic Development, as well as Alberta Economic Development
Authority, to study the issue in more detail and determine
what action needs to be taken.