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Alberta’s first refinery in 30 years

Alberta’s first refinery in 30 years

Alberta’s first refinery in 30 years

Ian MacGregor, president and CEO of NW Refining, says:

Converting the raw bitumen that Alberta produces into diesel fuel, that’s our primary product. The first step in the process is adding diluent in it to pump it in a pipeline, we take the diluent out and the rest of the process is adding hydrogen to bitumen.

It’s the first refinery to be built with an integrated carbon capture and storage (CCS) system. The refinery—along with Agrium, a fertilizer facility adjacent to the site—will capture almost 5,000 tons of CO2 per day.

Sturgeon refinery has moved into the future – we’ve been able to incorporate what we think it is technology for the future in the refinery we are building today.The most important one I feel is carbon capture. When you refine you have to add hydrogen to the heavy oil. When you make a molecule of hydrogen, you make a molecule of CO2 at the same time. In any other refinery in the world the CO2 is vented.

The CO2 will then travel down the Alberta Carbon Trunk Line (ACTL), a 240-kilometer pipeline running from Northern to Southern Alberta, built by Enhance Energy, a company specializing in CCS technology. In the future, the ACTL will be able to handle CO2 from other plants looking to reduce emissions, and will take the CO2 to mature oil fields in Alberta to be used for enhanced oil recovery (EOR).

In a refinery like this that’s the same amount of CO2 as 400,000 cars driving around. We are going to capture that CO2 here. A sister company is building a pipeline to take it to central Alberta and use it for enhanced oil recovery (EOR). So, we can go to old oil reservoirs and put the CO2 in them and get a lot of additional oil that’s stuck in the reservoir out.

EOR helps to extend the life of mature oil fields by pumping CO2 into the ground which then forces the oil closer to the production well. The process can extend the life of a well by up to 20 years, which increases profits, maintains jobs and reduces the environmental impact of building new wells.

But EOR is also a method of CO2 storage. As CO2 enters the ground, it remains within the pore spaces left behind by the oil. Some CO2 will emerge at the production well, where it will be immediately injected back into the ground.

When it comes to water usage:

We really spent a lot of time trying to reduce our water consumption here, we use air cooling rather than more traditional water cooling, we capture every drop of water that hits the site, and any of the wastewater that comes out is heavily treated and recycled back into the process, so we really reduced our water consumption compared with a traditional refinery.

How about sulfur?

We have more sulfur removal capacity than anyone else does, we put an extra stage of sulfur recovery in, so we are quite a bit less than the current regulatory limits would allow you to put out, but we felt we are building something for the next 100 years.

Water Technologies Canada Inc.

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