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RE: Syncrude coker closed in May is restarted

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Faruq Masad

Syncrude introduced bitumen feed into Coker 8-3 during the August 30th night shift as part of a phased approach to return its Stage 3 facilities to operation. Incremental production should commence over the next few days with Syncrude planning for a gradual ramp-up to allow for regular monitoring and testing of the flue gas desulphurization (FGD) and other units.
Investigations into the odours that occurred during the operation of Syncrude’s new FGD unit and coker in May determined that ammonia being used in the FGD was largely responsible. Analysis indicated the ammonia produced at the Syncrude operation contains impurities, including odour-causing compounds. As a result, Syncrude has secured a reliable supply of purchased ammonia to support the operation of the FGD on an interim basis, while it investigates a long-term strategy to use the on-site produced ammonia. Certain other minor modifications also were undertaken on the FGD to help improve its performance.
In addition to enabling the re-start of the Stage 3 facilities, the use of imported ammonia is expected to help prevent odours and realize the FGD’s environmental benefit of virtually eliminating sulphur dioxide emissions from the expansion facilities. Syncrude has been testing the FGD using purchased ammonia since late July with good results. The cost to import the ammonia is expected to total about $3 million per month, assuming average monthly production at design capacity and transport of the ammonia via rail.

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