Imperial Oil’s Kearl oilsands expansion project up and running

Kearl oilsands expansion project significantly reduces greenhouse gas emissions

33 million work hours, $9 billion invested in Imperial Oil’s Kearl oilsands project.  Imperial Oil image.

On Tuesday, Imperial Oil announced the successful startup of the $9 billion Kearl oilsands expansion project.

New technology used in Imperial Oil’s Kearns oilsands project will mean on a well-to-wheels basis, diluted bitumen will have about the same greenhouse-gas emissions footprint as the average crude refined today in the US.

Imperial Oil CEO and chairman, Rich Kruger says “Energy consumption has also been reduced by installing electrical cogeneration technology”.

Other environmental innovations include on-site water storage, eliminating withdrawals from the Athabasca River in low-flow periods, progressive land and tailings reclamation and a state-of-the-art waterfowl deterrent system.

“The overall Kearl development represents the next generation of oil-sands mining,” said Kruger. “Using Imperial’s proprietary paraffinic froth treatment process, we eliminated the need for an onsite upgrader, significantly reducing greenhouse-gas emissions.

Construction at the Kearl expansion project involved 33 million work hours and employed a peak workforce of over 5,000 people.  90 per cent of the funding for the project was spent with Canadian companies based in Alberta with nearly $500 million directed to Fort McMurray area suppliers and contractors.  About 25 per cent of those suppliers and contractors are Aboriginal-owned and operated businesses.

The company says the project was completed ahead of schedule thanks to Imperial’s ‘design-one/build multiple’ approach, expertise in planning and execution, strong relationships with Alberta-based contractors and lessons learned from the initial Kearl project.

Production from the expansion project is expected to ultimately reach 110,000 barrels per day.  Kearl is expected to recover about 4.6 billion barrels of bitumen over an estimated project life of 40 years.

Initial development of the Kearl expansion project began in April of 2013.

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