As part of OSQAR’s 100th edition milestone celebration, we asked Suncor employees to share with us their views and ideas on oil sands development.
This week we are proud to feature employee guest writer, Tulika Gupta. Tulika is an electrical and computer engineer who recently joined Suncor as part of the Fort McMurray-based project controls team where she is involved with change management, review of contractor reports and coordination with other project functions. Tulika is passionate about the energy industry and a strong supporter of her community. We thank Tulika for taking the time to share her perspective with us.
A community of change
It takes millions of years for coal to transform under pressure and heat into diamond. But, what a transformation it is! From something brittle and dark and unsure of itself to something clear and unbreakable. I spent about four years in Toronto and decided to move to Fort McMurray to join Suncor in the project controls field team at the Voyageur project. I was here in the summer of 2009 as an intern, and I have seen tremendous progress since then.
These are the great things about it.
- Economic growth. It’s an engine of economic growth for Alberta, Canada and beyond.
- Scenery and lifestyle. It is one of the most scenic and beautiful places I have seen. If you are a photographer, the sky every single day is breathtaking and the valley is beautiful. It is so different from the city life I have witnessed. The trails I walk in … there is something surreal about it when you can step out of your work or home and end up amidst nature and nothing else.
- Community spirit. The community is both supportive and generous.
- Traffic improvements. Tangible efforts are being made to improve the traffic situation like the allocation of a dedicated bus lane. Simple fixes work so well!
- Prosperity. Recession? What’s that? I don’t think that exists in Fort McMurray diction.
What is not so great?
- The image of Fort McMurray held by many outside the community. The rumours about Fort McMurray and the ‘tar sands’ have tarnished the reputation of a place that many people have not experienced first-hand. But despite what is said by anti-oil sands campaigners, efforts by industry to care for the community and the environment are, to me, incredible. For example, project planning includes keeping nesting seasons in mind. And new technologies being used to reclaim tailings ponds more rapidly are working.
- Community access. Fort McMurray is a relatively remote community with traffic volumes that are not yet fully supported by current infrastructure.
And the future
But there is hope...
- Growing population. The Canadian Energy Research Institute (CERI) has predicted a rise in jobs from 75,000 to 905,000 by 2035. We are growing. Be it new housing communities, airports, malls, roads or plant expansions – Fort McMurray is here for the long haul.
- Environmental management. In a beautiful city like this, it is hard to even believe there is any sort of environmental disturbance. Measures are taken to ensure sustainability and symbiotic living with nature.
- Talented additions. There are more and more talented people arriving here every day. And they are warmly welcomed.