OPTI Canada to Present at the FirstEnergy/Societe Generale East Coast Canadian Energy Conference and Provides Project Update



    TSX: OPC

    CALGARY, March 11 /CNW/ - OPTI Canada Inc. (OPTI) announced today that
Sid Dykstra, President and Chief Executive Officer of OPTI, will present an
overview of the Company at the FirstEnergy/Société Générale East Coast
Canadian Energy Conference on Friday, March 14th at 8:25 a.m. Eastern Time
from the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York.
    The presentation will be audio broadcast via live and archived webcast.
The webcast will be located under "Presentations and Webcasts" within the
Investors section of the OPTI website, and will be archived for 30 days. The
webcast may also be accessed at:
http://remotecontrol.jetstreammedia.com/14699.
    The presentation will include an update of the progress to date on
Phase 1 of the Long Lake Project (the Project). Steam is currently being
injected into the reservoir through all well pads. The first cogeneration unit
has started-up, allowing us to produce electricity and build our steam
capacity. As a result, we recently made our first electricity sale to the
Alberta electrical grid. The second cogeneration unit is expected to start up
towards the end of the month. SAGD well pairs are continuing to be converted
to operations and we expect to see bitumen production volumes ramp-up in the
second quarter in time for start-up of the Upgrader.
    Construction of the OPTI-operated Upgrader is substantially complete and
the construction labour force is actively demobilizing as planned.
Commissioning and start-up activities are well advanced. Upgrader start-up
remains on track for first production of synthetic crude oil in mid 2008.
Production of PSC(TM) will ramp up to full rates over a 12 to 18 month period
following initial Upgrader start up. The Upgrader is designed to produce
approximately 60,000 bbls/d (30,000 bbls/d net to OPTI) of PSC(TM).
    The total cost estimate for Phase 1 of Long Lake remains unchanged at
between $5.8 billion and $6.1 billion (between $2.90 billion and $3.05 billion
net to OPTI).
    OPTI is committed to responsible development of the oil sands. We are
reviewing the additional information in the Government's Taking Action to
Fight Climate Change documents. Based on guidance provided by the federal
government last spring, OPTI had previously included the cost of a continual
2% annual reduction in CO2 at $20/tonne in its netback analysis for Phase 1,
which translated into about $1.00 per barrel of additional costs. Based on the
recent federal release and that Phase 1 will be on stream between 2004 and
2011, it is expected that the application of a clean fuel standard could
increase the amount of reduction required. However, the Long Lake Project
incorporates the first application of gasification in Canada's oil sands. It
is anticipated that the inclusion of gasification in our Project would fall
under the announced provision that a flexible approach will be taken in
special cases where the equipment or technology in a new plant facilitates
carbon capture, and that as a result the clean fuel standard would not apply
until 2018.
    As a result of our use of gasification and the prior inclusion of
estimated penalties in our estimated netbacks, we expect no significant
changes to our near term cash flow estimates. In the longer term, the Long
Lake Project remains well positioned with gasification to meet the anticipated
requirements to put in place carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies. We
look forward to additional information being provided to facilitate future
technology selection and the development of CCS infrastructure.

    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 50/50 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 OPTI-operated
upgrading facility, using OPTI's 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 news release 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.





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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