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Oil company abandons plan to drill wells in Alberta city limits after petition

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LETHBRIDGE, Alta. - The mayor of a southern Alberta city says an oil and gas company's decision to abandon plans to drill three exploratory wells within city limits is a victory for activism.

Goldenkey Oil Inc. announced Wednesday that it will not be applying to the Alberta Energy Regulator to access its mineral rights in the Lethbridge area.

Goldenkey says the decision was the result of public consultations, inquiry responses and numerous meetings with stakeholders.

Project representative David Hill says it came down to the cost of being successful in the application process versus the prospect of technical success for an exploratory well.

Lethbridge Mayor Chris Spearman says the more than 13,000 signatures on a petition against Goldenkey's plans and hundreds of letters was — quote — a victory in "activism over apathy" and a great example of democracy.

But Spearman also says it's still very important that Lethbridge and other Alberta communities push the province for an urban drilling policy.

Goldenkey had proposed drilling through a sour geological formation, but would have produced from a non-sour zone.

"Goldenkey has decided on a project basis that the barriers here did not justify the costs," Hill said in a statement.

The group that launched the petition, No Drilling Lethbridge, says it's "thrilled" Goldenkey won't be submitting an application to drill on the west side.

The Alberta New Democrats also echoed the mayor's call for the province to develop an urban drilling policy.

"Though we are relieved for the citizens of Lethbridge, the threat of urban drilling in other cities and towns remains. Today, we repeat our demand that the provincial government ban all drilling in urban areas and commit resources to a study of the impact of drilling," said Mason.

"The people of Lethbridge forced a company to back down when the provincial government failed them. But what about another city or town tomorrow?"

(CJOC, The Canadian Press)

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