ALBERTA - Almost as soon as SYNCRUDE started up its Stage 3 expansion north of Fort McMurray, it was forced to shut it down in response to a provincial environmental protection order. The first bitumen was fed to the new coker 8-3 on May 6, enabling all Stage 3 expansion units to come online and begin production. Complaints of noxious odours forced shutdown of the coker on May 18.
On May 26, the cause of the odour was traced to the startup of the flue gas desulphurizer. This is the first time Syncrude has installed this technology. Modifications to eliminate the problem are expected to take one or two months to complete.
Syncrude's Stage 3 expansion is designed to increase capacity to an average of 350,000 bbl/day. The capital cost for startup of the expansion is estimated at $8.4 billion with additional post-startup costs of $150 million. The investment also includes an improved product quality to Syncrude Sweet Premium for the entire production stream, pre-built capacity for a future debottlenecking growth stage, environmental mitigation measures and improvement and modernization of base plant operations.
Updated information about the state of repairs will be made available by CANADIAN OIL SANDS TRUST (www.COS-Trust.com), one of the partners in Syncrude.