ALBERTA – The start-up of the Kearl oil sands expansion 70 km north of Fort McMurray is underway and ahead of schedule. Output will eventually reach 110,000 bbl/day, bringing total output up to 220,000 bbl/day. Production originally began in April 2013, and debottlenecking will eventually boost production to 345,000 bbl/day.
"The overall Kearl development represents the next generation of oil-sands mining," said Imperial Oil chairman Rich Kruger. "Using Imperial's proprietary paraffinic froth treatment process, we eliminated the need for an onsite upgrader, significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Specifically, on a well-to-wheels basis, Kearl diluted bitumen has about the same greenhouse gas emissions footprint as the average crude refined today in the United States. Energy consumption has also been reduced by installing electrical cogeneration technology."
Other environmental innovations include water storage on the site to eliminate drawing water from the Athabasca River when flow is low. Land and tailings reclamation is carried out progressively, and a state-of-the-art waterfowl deterrent keep birds away from harmful ponds.
Imperial said that the Kearl project is expected to recover about 4.6 billion barrels of bitumen over an estimated life of more than 40 years.
The Kearl oil sands project is a joint venture of Imperial Oil (71%) and ExxonMobil Canada (29%). Additional information is available at ImperialOil.ca.