Calgary-based, privately held North West Upgrading Inc. is building an independent, heavy oil upgrader in Sturgeon County, Alberta, northeast of Edmonton.
According to the company, the North West Upgrader will split incoming bitumen blend streams in atmospheric and vacuum distillation towers. Light end diluent will be recycled to customers. Other light end products will include fuel gas, butane, and naphtha. Heavier materials, meanwhile, will be hydrocracked and hydrotreated to make the following products: ultra low sulfur diesel, low sulfur vacuum gas oil, and butane.
The facility's gasification unit will make hydrogen from the heaviest components of the bitumen. Applying a "carbon capture ready" design, the gasifier will support a commercial arrangement to sell the carbon dioxide for use in enhanced oil recovery--and effectively sequestering the majority of the facility's greenhouse gas emissions.
North West Upgrading said that the residue from the hydrocracking process will be gasified to produce hydrogen, which will subsequently be used in the hydrotreating process.
The upgrader will have a total processing capacity of 231,240 barrels per day of synbit/dilbit (synthetic crude mixed with bitumen/diluted bitumen) blended feedstock over three phases. Site preparation has started and all three phases are expected to be operational by 2016. Phase 1 start-up is set for 2011; this phase of the upgrader will be designed to process 77,000 b/d of synbit/dilbit mix bitumen feed per day. Phases 2 and 3, which are expected to start-up by 2015 and be operational by 2016, will each have an identical capacity. They received final regulatory approvals from Alberta Environment in February 2008.
The company sated that the September 2007 estimated cost for Phase 1 is $4.2 billion in 2007 dollars. Collectively, all three phases are expected to cost $15 billion.