The expansion project consists of three additional trains that use a paraffinic froth treatment to produce bitumen. The process makes an onsite upgrader unnecessary, reducing operating costs, energy requirements, and environmental impacts, the company said. It enables salable bitumen to be produced in one processing step, the first mine of its kind in Alberta.
The company used an improved understanding of oil sands from initial Kearl development phases to bring the expansion onstream ahead of schedule, said Neil Duffin, ExxonMobil development company president. The project will help the company access the expected 4.6 billion bbl of recoverable resources in Kearl (OGJ Online, May 5, 2014).
The project lies about 47 miles northeast of Fort McMurray and is operated by ExxonMobil affiliate Imperial Oil Ltd.