Syncrude to increase oil sands processing capacity

By OGJ editors
HOUSTON, Feb. 25
-- Canadian Oil Sands Trust said that based on preliminary scoping and design work the debottlenecking of Syncrude Canada Ltd.'s existing Mildred Lake upgrading facility, 40 km north of Fort McMurray, Alta., would increase the facility's capacity to 425,000 b/d of synthetic crude oil by 2020, compared with the current 350,000 b/d capacity.

The debottlenecking projects involve accessing the excess coking capacity constructed during Syncrude's last expansion, making modifications to other facilities, and potentially adding new ancillary units. The debottlenecking would eliminate the need to build a new upgrading facility, Canadian Oil Sands said.

The undeveloped Aurora South mine will supply the bitumen for the debottlenecked facility. Syncrude plans to start construction of the first 100,000 b/d mining train on Aurora South in about 2012, with production expected by yearend 2016. A second 100,000 b/d train would follow, with construction starting in 2014 and production expected by 2020.

After construction of these trains, Canadian Oil Sands said Syncrude will have a 600,000 b/d bitumen production capacity or about 115,000 b/d more than its upgrading capacity.

It said Syncrude is considering incorporating new technology in the construction of the Aurora South mine trains to improve bitumen recovery, energy efficiency, and product quality. The improved product quality would allow for pipeline transportation and sales of surplus bitumen and broaden Syncrude's production from the current light, sweet synthetic blend to a slate including heavy and sour blends.

These plans are subject to regulatory approval as well as approvals from Syncrude's joint venture owners.

Owners include Canadian Oil Sands Ltd. 36.74%, ConocoPhillips Oilsands Partnership II 9.03%, Imperial Oil Resources Ltd. 25%, Mocal Energy Ltd. 5%, Murphy Oil Co. Ltd. 5%, Nexen Oil Sands Partnership 7.23%, and Petro-Canada Oil & Gas (Suncor) 12%.

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