Technology innovations signal next generation of oil-sands mining
Kearl key step in Imperial's plan to double production to 600,000
barrels per day by 2020
First of three froth trains producing bitumen
CALGARY, April 27, 2013 /CNW/ - Imperial Oil Limited today announced the
start-up of the initial development of the Kearl oil sands project,
which incorporates next-generation technology innovations that
significantly enhance environmental performance.
"Kearl is a historic development for Imperial," said Rich Kruger,
Imperial Oil chairman and CEO. "Kearl is the largest project we've ever
undertaken and the beginning of a period of substantial growth for the
company that will see us double production to more than 600,000 barrels
per day by about 2020."
Production of mined diluted bitumen from the first of three froth
treatment trains has begun. Start-up of two additional bitumen froth
trains will proceed in sequence as planned, bringing production from
the initial development to an expected 110,000 barrels per day later in
Diluted bitumen produced from Kearl will have about the same life-cycle
greenhouse-gas emissions as many other crude oils refined in the United
States as a result of technologies which significantly enhance
environmental performance. Energy needs have been reduced by using a
proprietary froth treatment process that eliminates the need to build
an upgrader; and through installation of energy-saving cogeneration
Other environmental innovations include on-site water storage to
eliminate river withdrawals in low-flow periods, progressive land
reclamation, earlier tailings reclamation than other oilsands
operations and a state-of-the-art waterfowl deterrent system.
"Our goal with Kearl is to approach development differently to better
address environmental challenges and more closely meet the expectations
of stakeholders in developing a critical resource," Kruger said. "I
believe we have achieved this."
An expansion phase at Kearl will add another 110,000 barrels per day by
late 2015 and future debottlenecking will increase output to reach the
regulatory capacity of 345,000 barrels per day by about 2020.
The Kearl project, located about 75 kilometres northeast of Fort
McMurray, Alberta, is expected to recover approximately 4.6 billion
barrels of bitumen over an estimated project life of more than 40
Construction of the initial development entailed 45 million person hours
of work and employed a peak workforce of more than 5,000 people. Of the
project's total cost, more than $1 billion was directed to local
suppliers and contractors in the Wood Buffalo region, of which more
than 25 percent are Aboriginal-owned and operated.
"Our project team and our construction workforce achieved
industry-leading safety performance, and our environmental performance
will be enhanced through new technologies and innovation that make
Kearl a next-generation oil-sands mining development," Kruger said.
Imperial Oil is one of Canada's largest corporations and a leading
member of the country's petroleum industry. The company is a major
producer of crude oil and natural gas, Canada's largest petroleum
refiner, a key petrochemical producer and a leading marketer with
coast-to-coast supply and service station networks.
Note to editors: Backgrounder attached
KEARL OIL SANDS PROJECT
The Kearl Oil Sands Project is jointly owned between Imperial Oil (71%,
operator) and ExxonMobil Canada (29%). It will be one of Canada's
largest open-pit mining operations with regulatory approval for up to
345,000 barrels a day of production.
The Kearl project is located on the following oil-sands leases, located
about 70 kilometres north of Fort McMurray:
Leases 6 and 87, in which Imperial holds 100 percent of the mining
rights. Areas deemed suitable for surface mining are primarily in the
western part of Lease 6 and Lease 87.
Lease 31A and the eastern portion of Lease 36, in which ExxonMobil
Canada holds 100 percent of the mining rights.
The northeast portion of Lease 88, in which ExxonMobil Canada holds 100
percent of the mining rights.
Based on evaluation carried out to date, total recoverable bitumen
resources on the leases are estimated at 4.6 billion barrels.
Initial public disclosure - 1997 (by Mobil Canada)
Updated project disclosure by Imperial - November 2003
Regulatory application filing - July 2005
Regulatory approval - June 2008
Project sanction - May 2009
Engineering, procurement and construction - 2009-2012
First oil - Second quarter 2013
Expected benefits from the proposed development include:
Investment of more than $30 billion (CDN), which will be largely spent
in the province of Alberta and elsewhere in Canada.
Peak construction workforce for the Kearl initial development was
More than 1,000 permanent jobs when full production capacity is reached.
Provincial and federal revenues from corporate taxes and royalties over
the life of the project.
Property taxes to the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo over the
life of the project.
Personal income taxes and induced revenue benefits will provide
additional benefits to the provincial and federal government.
PROPOSED FACILITES AND OPERATION
Kearl is a long-life opportunity that represents one of the best
undeveloped deposits of mineable oil sands in the region. Ore grade and
the quantity of bitumen that can be produced for a given volume of
mined material are better than other leases, and provide the project
with an inherent efficiency and cost advantage.
The Kearl facilities include several newly developed technologies that
represent the 'next generation' of oil sands mining in Canada.
The project will use a proprietary froth treatment technology to produce
pipeline quality mined diluted bitumen without an upgrader, reducing
overall greenhouse gas emissions.
Cogeneration will use natural gas to generate both steam and electricity
for the facility. By eliminating power purchases from the Alberta
power grid, greenhouse gas emissions will be reduced by reducing the
need for higher-emission coal-fired power plants.
Water use will be reduced through recycling and on-site water storage.
Kearl will be the first facility to use stored water to sustain
production when water withdrawals from the Athabasca River are
restricted during low flow periods.
The project will use progressive land reclamation, using stored topsoil
and peat to restore completed mined-out areas before mining operations
end. Compensation lakes will double original fish habitat.
Project plans have been reconfigured to include the Kearl expansion
project and debottlenecking to reduce the facility's overall footprint.
Planned capacity growth:
Kearl initial development - initial 110KBD increases to 145KBD with
increased mining output;
Kearl expansion project - initial 110KBD increases to 145 KBD with
increased mining output;
Debottlenecking of both phases increases total to 345KBD.
To minimize impact on the Athabasca River, advanced technologies
developed at Cold Lake and Syncrude will be used to recycle process
water and reduce fresh water demand. On-site water storage with 90 days
of capacity will be used to lessen withdrawals from Athabasca River
during low flow periods.
Imperial has received approval for its initial tailings plan to meet
reclamation directives currently mandated by the province, and supports
having flexibility to adapt the plan as new research and technologies
We will eventually install clarifiers and other innovative technologies
to intercept and thicken the tailings from our Kearl plant facility.
After opening a section of the mine for permanent storage of tailings,
the tailings will be dewatered, dried, and returned to the mine before
the tailings reach the tailings pond. As a result, the surface area of
the Kearl tailings pond will be significantly less than earlier
industry oil sands mining operations.
These tailings management technologies will also allow us to recycle
warm process water which will minimize the need for fresh water and
further reduce our greenhouse gas emissions.
Imperial continues to review and assess all commercially-proven
technologies and techniques available to manage tailings in a safe,
environmentally-responsible and cost-effective manner.
Kearl's approach to site remediation is to provide for progressive
reclamation and reclaim land as early as possible.
Prior to construction, five different types of soil were identified for
salvage and stockpiling for use in reclamation. Another key focus of
reclamation is the "banking" of native seeds. Unlike previous
approaches that have reclaimed local lands with a monoculture of white
spruce trees, the Kearl site plan includes a variety of native species
to better mimic the natural environment.
Reclamation of the Kearl site is continuous and has already begun - well
before we have even begun production - and will continue over the
entire life of the project.
We will progressively reclaim mined-out sections as the Kearl mine
moves, rather than waiting to reclaim land until the end of mining
A November 2012 IHS CERA study indicates that the Kearl project will
have lifecycle GHG emissions for diluted mined bitumen that are
comparable to many other crude oils refined in the U.S., both domestic
Kearl will use advanced mining and extraction techniques, energy-saving
cogeneration and produce diluted bitumen without an upgrader.
Imperial's migrating waterfowl deterrent system was deployed in 2011 for
testing and adjustment, even though the Kearl oil sands project will
not be placing tailings in its storage area until late 2012.
Imperial's waterfowl protection system utilizes best-available
technology, designed by a firm experienced in military, space shuttle
and airport bird deterrence. We believe this combination of technology
and people will help the Kearl project provide best-in-class level of
The system being implemented at Kearl provides 360-degree radar
detection and tracking coverage extending to a range of two nautical
miles. Deterrent options including noise cannons, eye-safe lasers,
scarecrow/effigies, and long-range acoustical devices that use a
variety of deterrent noises. The sounds are constantly changed in order
to prevent birds from habituating to a consistent signal.
The system will be maintained and operated by a dedicated on-site team.
It will operate throughout the annual bird migration and breeding
Video with caption: "B-roll from Imperial Oil's Kearl oil sands.
". Video available at: http://stream1.newswire.ca/cgi-bin/playback.cgi?file=20130427_C9418_VIDEO_EN_24932.mp4&posterurl=http://photos.newswire.ca/images/20130427_C9418_PHOTO_EN_24932.jpg&clientName=Imperial%20Oil%20Limited&caption=B%2Droll%20from%20Imperial%20Oil%27s%20Kearl%20oil%20sands%2E%20%0D%0A&title=IMPERIAL%20OIL%20LIMITED%20%2D%20First%20Production%20From%20Kearl%20Oil%20Sands%20Project&headline=Imperial%20Oil%20Announces%20First%20Production%20From%20Kearl%20Oil%20Sands%20Project
Image with caption: "A Caterpillar 797 truck is loaded at the Keal mine. (CNW Group/Imperial Oil Limited)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20130427_C9418_PHOTO_EN_24927.jpg
Image with caption: "The Kearl oil sands plant, located approximately 75 km northeast of Fort McMurray. (CNW Group/Imperial Oil Limited)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20130427_C9418_PHOTO_EN_24925.jpg
Image with caption: "The first load of oil-sands ore at Kearl is dumped into the crusher. (CNW Group/Imperial Oil Limited)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20130427_C9418_PHOTO_EN_24926.jpg
SOURCE: Imperial Oil Limited
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