First Premium Synthetic Crude Oil Produced from Long Lake Project



    TSX: OPC

    CALGARY, Jan. 22 /CNW/ - OPTI Canada Inc. (OPTI) is pleased to announce
the start-up of the Long Lake Upgrader and production of its first Premium
Sweet Crude (PSC(TM)). The Long Lake Project (the Project) includes a steam
assisted gravity drainage (SAGD) project integrated with on-site upgrading
using the proprietary integrated OrCrude(TM) process, combined with
gasification and hydrocracking, that is expected to yield the highest quality
synthetic crude oil to come from Canada's oil sands with low operating costs.
    The main process units in the Upgrader are operating. The utilities,
sulphur and air separation plants are supporting the OrCrude(TM), gasification
and hydrocracker complexes. As planned, the gasifiers are running initially on
vacuum residue, which will be replaced by an asphaltene feed once the initial
production phase has been completed. Synthesis gas from the Upgrader is being
used in the SAGD operation, significantly reducing the requirement for natural
gas. We are building inventories for the first sale of PSC(TM). During the
initial operating period, we expect some intermittent down time but anticipate
that the stability of operations will continue to improve. Based on industry
experience, we anticipate that the Upgrader will ramp up to full design rates
of approximately 58,500 bbl/d of high quality, 39 degrees API PSC(TM) and
other products in 12 to 18 months.
    "The production of first synthetic oil from our Upgrader, with an
outstanding safety record through construction, commissioning and start-up, is
a major accomplishment," said Sid Dykstra, President and CEO. "This success is
the culmination of the combined effort of our many employees and contractors."

    About OPTI

    OPTI Canada Inc. is a Calgary, Alberta-based company focused on
developing the fourth and next major integrated oil sands project in Canada,
the Long Lake Project, in a joint venture with Nexen Inc. The first phase of
the Project consists of 72,000 barrels per day of SAGD (steam assisted gravity
drainage) oil production integrated with an upgrading facility, using the
proprietary OrCrude(TM) process and commercially available hydrocracking and
gasification. Through gasification, this configuration substantially reduces
the exposure to and the need to purchase natural gas. The Project is expected
to produce 58,500 bbl/d of products, primarily 39 degree API Premium Sweet
Crude with low sulphur content, making it a highly desirable refinery
feedstock. OPTI's common shares trade on the Toronto Stock Exchange under the
symbol OPC.
    Additional information regarding the Long Lake Project is available at
http://www.longlake.ca.

    Forward-Looking Statements

    Certain statements contained herein are forward-looking statements,
including statements relating to: OPTI's operations; business prospects,
expansion plans and strategies; OPTI's plans and expectations concerning the
use and performance of the OrCrude(TM) process and other related technologies;
the cost, development and operation of the Long Lake Project and OPTI's
relationship with Nexen Inc. Forward-looking information typically contains
statements with words such as "intends," "anticipate," "estimate," "expect,"
"potential," "could," "plan" or similar words suggesting future outcomes.
Readers are cautioned not to place undue reliance on forward-looking
information because it is possible that expectations, predictions, forecasts,
projections and other forms of forward-looking information will not be
achieved by OPTI. By its nature, forward-looking information involves numerous
assumptions, inherent risks and uncertainties. A change in any one of these
factors could cause actual events or results to differ materially from those
projected in the forward-looking information. Although OPTI believes that the
expectations reflected in such forward-looking statements are reasonable, OPTI
can give no assurance that such expectations will prove to be correct.
Forward-looking statements are based on current expectations, estimates and
projections that involve a number of risks and uncertainties which could cause
actual results to differ materially from those anticipated by OPTI and
described in the forward-looking statements or information. The
forward-looking statements are based on a number of assumptions which may
prove to be incorrect. In addition to other assumptions identified herein, we
have made assumptions regarding, among other things: market costs and other
variables affecting operating costs of the Project; the ability of the Long
Lake joint venture partners to obtain equipment, services and supplies,
including labour, in a timely and cost-effective manner; the availability and
costs of financing; oil prices and market price for the PSC(TM) output of the
OrCrude(TM) Upgrader; foreign currency exchange rates and hedging risks;
government regulations and royalty regimes; the degree of risk that
governmental approvals may be delayed or withheld; other risks and
uncertainties described elsewhere in this document or in OPTI's other filings
with Canadian securities authorities.
    Readers should be aware that the list of factors, risks and uncertainties
set forth above are not exhaustive. Readers should refer to OPTI's current
Annual Information Form, which is available at www.sedar.com, for a detailed
discussion of these factors, risks and uncertainties. The forward-looking
statements or information contained in this document are made as of the date
hereof and OPTI undertakes no obligation to update publicly or revise any
forward-looking statements or information, whether as a result of new
information, future events or otherwise, unless so required by applicable laws
or regulatory policies.

    %CIK: 0001177446




For further information:

For further information: Alison Trollope, Investor Relations Manager,
(403) 218-4705, OPTI Canada Inc., Suite 2100, 555 - 4th Ave. S.W., Calgary,
Alberta, Canada, T2P 3E7

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OPTI CANADA INC.

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