AB oil patch split over proposal for partial moratorium

CALGARY — A business-led lobbying effort to create a partial moratorium on oil sands development in order to free up conservation land has divided Canada’s major energy companies, while a government decision on the issue will likely be delayed until after next Monday’s provincial election.Major oil producers – led by Petro-Canada Corp., Suncor Inc., Husky Energy Ltd., Shell Canada and Imperial Oil – have for the first time called on Alberta to slow development in the Athabasca region.

The group, which also includes Devon Canada and ConocoPhillips Canada, signed a private letter last month calling for the province to suspend land lease sales until at least 2011 in three areas around Fort McMurray, saying any additional sales “would continue to reduce the available options for the establishment of new conservation areas.”

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