First Nation group to appeal Dover oil sands project approval

Dover oil sands project

Two months after receiving regulatory approval on the Dover oil sands project, Athabasca Oil Corp. (TSX:ATH) has hit a legal hurdle.

The Alberta Court of Appeal has granted the Fort McKay First Nation (FMFN) permission to appeal the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) panel's decision to approve the project.

The company announced in a statement on Friday that the court had issued the "leave to appeal on a question of constitutional law arising from the AER approval." This does not have any significance on the merits of the FMFN's case "but is restricted to a specific question of law or jurisdiction," the statement noted.

The Dover Project – located 95 kilometers northwest of Fort McMurray – is a joint venture between PetroChina and Athabasca Oil.

During the panel review, the First Nation group – along with other local and regional groups – strongly opposed the project due to its potential effects on traditional land use activities and the environment.

Despite these concerns, the panel approved the project because it found that the "significant" economic benefits outweighed the negative impacts.

An appeal date for the case has not yet been set.

Friday's news dealt a big blow to Athabasca Oil's share price which sank 14% to $5.98 per share.