September 1, 2006 at 3:28 am #4148
CALGARY, Alberta, Aug 31 – Canadian Oil Sands Trust said on Thursday that an upgrading refinery at Syncrude Canada Ltd.’s Fort McMurray, Alberta, oil sands operations has been restarted after regulators closed it in May because of odors.
The trust, the largest shareholder in the Syncrude joint venture, said tar-like bitumen which is mined from the sands, began being fed into a new coker unit on Wednesday and production will be ramped up slowly.
Siren Fisekci, a spokeswoman for the trust, said the coker is now producing 25,000 barrels of synthetic crude a day. Output will then be boosted to 65,000 barrels a day and then to design capacity of 100,000 barrels a day. However, she said there was no fixed timetable for increasing output.
“We don’t know when we reach each point. It depends on how the operation is going,” Fisekci said. “We can’t reliably say what rates will be at any point.”
The unit is part of an C$8.4 billion ($7.6 billion) expansion of the project that will boost output from the site by 100,000 barrels a day to 350,000 bpd.
Alberta environmental regulators ordered the unit shut in May, 10 days after it had been started up. The order came after area residents complained of urine-like odors being emitted from a flue gas desulphurization unit, which treats gas emitted from the coker.
The trust said an investigation had found that ammonia produced on site and used in the unit contained impurities responsible for the smells.
Syncrude will now import ammonia at a cost of C$3 million a month.
Canadian Oil Sands Trust owns a 35.5 percent share in Syncrude. Its partners include Canadian Oil Sands Investments Inc. Imperial Oil Ltd., Petro-Canada, ConocoPhillips, Nexen Inc., Nippon Oil Corp.unit Mocal Energy Ltd. and Murphy Oil Corp.
September 1, 2006 at 3:33 am #7543
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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