Sturgeon Refinery in final push to construction completion

North West Refining CEO Ian MacGregor. Image: Deborah Jaremko/JWN

Alberta’s brand new bitumen refinery produced first diesel in December 2017, but it’s not quite finished construction.

A workforce of about 2,500 is currently on the final push toward completion at the 50,000-bbl/d facility near Edmonton, North West Redwater Partnership said on Friday.

Eight of the refinery's 10 units are constructed and in various stages of commissioning and start up, the company said.

“The two units still under construction include the LC Finer, which processes some of the heaviest fractions of bitumen, as well as the gasifier, which collects CO2 produced in the refining process, reducing the carbon footprint of our end product,” NWR said.

“Remaining work on these two units mainly includes electrical heat tracing, insulation and scaffolding. Target completion is this spring, at which time commissioning and start up will be the focus.”

The company noted that over 50 million hours have been worked on the project since 2011, including a peak construction workforce of 8,000.

Right now the refinery is using synthetic crude oil to produce diesel, but NWR said this will change to unprocessed oilsands feedstock in mid-2018.

“As part of commissioning and start up, a partially upgraded feedstock such as synthetic crude allows for testing and adjustments in the units that are functioning. Once the refinery is fully operational, it will use bitumen feedstock to complete the entire refining process from start to finish.”

The Sturgeon Refinery has synthetic production of 28,570 bbls/d in November 2017, according to the most recent data from the Alberta Energy Regulator.