Canadian Manufacturing

Imperial Oil seeks regulatory approval for $7B oil sands project

Work could begin as early as 2017, startup as early as 2020 on project near Fort McMurray, Alta.

CALGARY—Imperial Oil Ltd. has applied for regulatory approval to build a new oil sands project northeast of Fort McMurray, Alta., which would cost an estimated $7-billion.

Company spokesperson Pius Rolheiser emphasized the price tag is “very preliminary” and there’s a good chance it could change as engineering work proceeds.

“As project definition advances and as market conditions evolve, obviously it has the potential to impact the cost estimate,” he said.

Imperial would use steam-assisted gravity drainage technology to extract the bitumen, injecting steam deep underground to liquefy the bitumen so that it can flow to the surface.

It’s also considering using solvents to improve recovery, cut water use and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The solvent technology is being tested at Imperial’s massive Cold Lake oil sands operations in eastern Alberta.

Imperial, majority owned by Houston-based energy giant ExxonMobil Corp., expects to build the Aspen project in three 45,000-barrel-per-day phases.

The board of directors could decide whether to proceed as early as 2017, with startup as early as 2020.

Imperial has a number of other potential opportunities in the oil sands, including its Corner and Clyden leases near Fort McMurray and Grand Rapids on its Cold Lake lease.

The first phase of its $12.9-billion Kearl oil sands mine north of Fort McMurray started up earlier this year.

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