Letter: Sturgeon Refinery provides update on progress

Sturgeon Refinery reaches 6 million barrels of diesel production
Diesel users across Western Canada and beyond have been making use of Alberta’s newest source of fuel to fill their tanks. Since November 2017, the Sturgeon Refinery has been processing synthetic crude oil into diesel and other valuable products as part of the commissioning and start up process. Recently, total diesel production hit 6 million barrels. That’s enough diesel to fuel up 4 million fire trucks or 1 million combines for this fall’s agriculture harvest.

Start up progressing well
The commissioning process continues for the refinery. As inspections and tests are finalized on the last two units – the LC Finer and the gasifier – these units will be started up so that all ten of the refinery’s units are running. At that point, the refinery can begin to process bitumen from Alberta’s oil sands. Until now, the refinery has been using synthetic crude as feedstock. In the near future, the feedstock will be switched over to bitumen.

This switch in feedstock is the last major milestone for the Sturgeon Refinery to operate as designed, taking low value bitumen and processing it into much higher value diesel. Converting the refinery to bitumen feedstock and achieving safe, reliable operations is the near term focus of North West Redwater Partnership’s (NWR) team.

Workforce numbers still trending down
The site currently has a workforce of approximately 700 people per day. This includes NWR employees, long term contractors, and teams involved in finishing commissioning and start up. Once the refinery is fully operational, the long term workforce will be approximately 450 people. Career opportunities with NWR are posted on our website as they come available.
Noticeable site activity

While construction on the refinery itself is complete, there are still some activities that are noticeable to passersby. Flaring may be more apparent as systems and units are tested to ensure they are working properly. A Flare Management Plan helps guide and manage flaring during start up. Additionally, road construction work at the intersection of highway 643 and range road 220, which is the entrance to the refinery, will realign the range road north and south of the highway. This work is expected to be completed in November 2018. Please drive carefully through this construction area and obey all reduced speed signs.

Waste into worth
Over 95% of waste was recycled instead of sent to landfills during construction of the refinery. Items such as copper wire, scrap metal, and beverage containers were returned for a refund, and those funds were earmarked for community investment. All that waste was turned into half a million dollars of worth in local playgrounds, food banks, 4-H public speaking, town festivals, library technology, seniors mentoring, youth athlete training, and more. To celebrate the milestone of half a million dollars of community investment from recycling, a community challenge with $10,000 in funding is coming soon. Details will be on our website in September.

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