Imperial lets contract for planned Strathcona renewable diesel complex

Sept. 6, 2022
Imperial Oil let a contract to Air Products to supply low-carbon hydrogen for Imperial’s proposed grassroots renewable diesel production complex to be built at its 196,000-b/d Strathcona refinery near Edmonton, Alta., in western Canada.

ExxonMobil Corp.’s majority owned affiliate Imperial Oil Ltd. let a contract to Air Products Inc. to supply low-carbon hydrogen for Imperial’s proposed grassroots renewable diesel production complex to be built at its 196,000-b/d Strathcona refinery near Edmonton, Alta., in western Canada.

As part of the Sept. 6 contract, Air Products will provide the Strathcona refinery’s planned complex long-term supply of about 50% of clean hydrogen produced by subsidiary Air Products Canada Ltd.’s 165-MMcfd net-zero hydrogen production and liquefaction complex currently under construction in Edmonton, Imperial and Air Products said in a joint release.

To support the contract award from Imperial, Air Products also has agreed to increase its original $1.3-billion (Can.) overall investment in the Edmonton hydrogen complex to $1.6 billion. Air Products said it will use its additional investment to carry out works to enable integration with the proposed renewable diesel project and help further reduce emissions at its own Edmonton hydrogen production hub.

Following delivery to the Strathcona site via pipeline, Air Products’ supply of blue hydrogen—or hydrogen produced from natural gas with carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology—will be combined with locally sourced renewable feedstocks and a proprietary catalyst to produce more than 1 billion l./year (roughly 20,000 b/d) of low-carbon, renewable diesel to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from Canada’s transportation sector by about 3 million tonnes/year (tpy), or the equivalent of removing more than 650,000 passenger vehicles/year from the road, Imperial said.

Currently still in discussions with the government of Alberta, industry, and the government of British Columbia—the latter of which has agreed to support the project in the form of credits under its provincial low carbon fuel standard (BC LCFS)—Imperial told investors in its latest annual report that it expects to take final investment decision (FID) on the proposed renewable diesel project in fourth-quarter 2022.

If approved, the planned complex would begin production in 2024, Imperial said.

Edmonton net-zero hydrogen complex

Under development since 2018 and formally announced in June 2021, Air Products’ proposed Edmonton net-zero hydrogen production and liquefaction complex—like Imperial’s Strathcona renewable diesel project—comes as a government-supported project to help Alberta reduce its provincial carbon footprint in line with Canada’s national goal to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.

Scheduled for startup in 2024, the hydrogen complex will deliver net-zero emissions by capturing more than 95% the carbon dioxide (CO2) generated at the site for permanent sequestering underground, with hydrogen-fueled electricity to offset the remaining 5% of emissions, Air Products said in a June 2021 release.

Designed to help refining and petrochemical customers served by the operator’s 55-km Alberta Heartland hydrogen pipeline, the complex also will enable production of liquid hydrogen to be used as emissions-free fuel in the Canadian transportation sector, and for generation of clean electricity, according to Air Products.

To become the world’s largest net-zero hydrogen complex upon commissioning, the site will include the following:

  • An auto-thermal reformer (ATR) hydrogen production plant equipped with proprietary technology from Topsoe AS.
  • Carbon-capture operations capable of achieving 95% removal of CO2, which will be permanently sequestered by leveraging the Wolf Carbon Solutions Inc.’s wholly owned and operated Alberta Carbon Trunk Line.
  • A power-generation plant fueled 100% by hydrogen—including NovaLT16 turbines provided by Baker Hughes—to produce clean electricity for the entire complex and export to the grid, offsetting the remaining 5% CO2 to achieve the complex-wide net-zero design.
  • A 35-tonnes/day (previously 30-tonnes/day) hydrogen liquefaction plant designed by Air Products.
  • An air-separation designed by Air Products to support the ATR operation and to produce clean liquid oxygen and nitrogen for the merchant industrial gas market.
  • Connection to Air Products’ existing Alberta Heartland hydrogen pipeline network for enhanced reliability and phased decarbonization of the entire network.