CNOOC wins regulatory approval to restart oilsands upgrader

CNOOC operations Source: CNOOC Ltd.

CNOOC Ltd. was granted permission to resume operation of its long-shuttered Long Lake oilsands upgrader amid a report that the company may exit Canada. 

The Alberta Energy Regulator approved the company’s application, filed five months ago, to start an upgrader that was shut after a fatal explosion in early 2016. CNOOC must submit a timeline for the restart and the plant will be limited to processing no more than 22,400 cubic metres (141,000 barrels) a day of bitumen, according to an AER document. The company plans to resume operation of the vacuum tower by the end of 2022 or early 2023, according to a separate document submitted to the regulator last month. An email to CNOOC for comment wasn’t immediately returned. 

The approval comes as CNOOC is preparing to exit operations in the U.K., Canada and the U.S. amid concern the assets could be subject to sanctions, Reuters reported Thursday, citing people familiar with the matter. Restarting the upgrader would allow Long Lake to produce a lighter, more expensive form of crude oil at a time when the company is expanding the site to generate nearly 100,000 barrels a day. 

© 2022 Bloomberg L.P.

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