Suncor Energy group restarts Australia shale plant

MELBOURNE�A group led by Suncor Energy Inc. has restarted oil shale processing at its Stuart Project near Gladstone in Queensland after a planned 3-month turnaround (OGJ Online, Sept. 6, 2000).

More than $6 million (Aus.) worth of equipment was installed at the plant as part of a program of emission and noise abatement. The work also included preventative maintenance.

Shale was reintroduced into the Alberta Taciuk Processor (ATP) in late November to test the equipment and shale target rates of 150-160 tonnes/hr were achieved during the first week. This feed rate represents 60-65% of plant capacity.

All sections of the plant, including the naphtha hydrotreater, were placed on stream and preliminary odor sampling and noise abatement measurement during this period showed much improvement over commissioning runs earlier in the year.

However, there was an interruption in the operations of the hydrocarbon vapor compressor and shale was withdrawn from the ATP Dec. 4 while repairs were made to an oxygen sensor in the oil recovery plant and the particulates monitor in the main stack.

Shale operations were subsequently restarted Dec. 12 and shale processing rates have remained stable at the planned 160 tonnes/hr.

The Australian partners in the project, Southern Pacific Petroleum NL and Central Pacific Petroleum NL, also reported low levels of dioxins in the plant�s air emissions and spent shale.

Plans are to complete the production trials by the end of this month and close the plant for a review of the results and for adjustments.

Operations will be restarted early in 2001 and gradually increasing the feedstock flow rate. The performance data will enable the partners to complete the engineering design work on Stuart Stage 2 that will involve a feed rate of 25,000 tonnes/day of oil shale and a production of 14,000 b/d of shale oil.

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