ALBERTA – Calgary’s Canadian Oil Sands Trust, 37% owner of the Syncrude project near Fort McMurray, has announced plans to expand synthetic crude oil production to 425,000 bbl/day by the end of this decade. No cost estimates have yet been made for the expansion.
First, the existing Mildred Lake upgrading facility will be debottlenecked. Projects involve accessing the excess coking capacity that was build during Syncrude’s last expansion, modifying other facilities, and potentially adding new ancillary units, the company says.
Second, additional feed for a debottlenecked upgrader will be supplied from the undeveloped Aurora South mine. Syncrude originally received approval for that mine in 1998, but has recently submitted an updated report to the regulators. If construction of a new mining train at Aurora South began in 2012, production would be expected by the end of 2016. A second train that would come on-stream in 2020 is planned. Bitumen output would then be sufficient to produce 600,000 bbl/d, about 150,000 bbl/d more than the upgrader could handle.
“Under today’s economic conditions, we believe these expansion plans have the advantage of bringing on production growth with less project execution risk and better economics than constructing greenfield upgrading facilities,” said Marcel Coutu, Canadian Oil Sands’ president and CEO. “I believe that, given the size of Syncrude’s resource base, we still have the ability to grow beyond this expanded 600,000 barrel per day productive capacity level.”
A glossary of oil sands related terms is available at www.Syncrude.ca.