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Imperial begins operating cogeneration unit at Strathcona refinery

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Hydrocarbon Engineering,

Imperial has started operation of its newly constructed cogeneration unit at its Strathcona refinery near Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, increasing energy efficiency at the facility and helping reduce provincial greenhouse gas emissions.

“The completion of this project is an important milestone for Imperial,” said Brad Corson, Imperial chairman, president and chief executive officer. “It highlights our commitment to investing in projects that support sustainability and contribute to reducing emissions. An investment in cogeneration is an investment in the future.”

“This is great news for our province,” said Alberta Premier Jason Kenney. “Our day-to-day lives are still dependent on our natural resources to provide us with the energy we need to thrive. That’s why I’m so pleased to see made-in-Alberta innovations like this, which help reduce our emissions as we utilise the energy we need.”

In a refinery, cogeneration technology captures heat generated from the production of electricity that would normally go to waste and uses it to produce steam for use in refining operations. Electricity produced by the Strathcona cogeneration unit meets approximately 75 to 80% of the refinery’s needs, significantly decreasing energy consumption from the Alberta grid. The unit produces approximately 41 megawatts of power and reduces province-wide greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 112 000 tpy, which is the equivalent to taking nearly 24 000 vehicles off the road annually.

“This project has been a great example of team work, particularly navigating some of the unique challenges that come with working in a pandemic environment over the last seven months. I’m proud the team has delivered the project on time and on budget, all while keeping everyone safe and healthy,” said Dave Oldreive, Strathcona refinery manager. “Strathcona continues to be one of the safest, most reliable and competitive refineries in North America and now with our cogeneration capacity, one of the most energy efficient.”

The Strathcona cogeneration unit is now Imperial’s third in Alberta, with cogeneration technology used at its Kearl and Cold Lake oil sands facilities. The positive impact those facilities have on the province-wide greenhouse gas emissions varies depending on annual facility energy consumption. In 2019, those facilities contributed to a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of approximately 860 000 t, similar to having nearly 186 000 fewer passenger vehicles on the road each year. Imperial also uses cogeneration at its Ontario refineries in Sarnia and Nanticoke.

The investment at Strathcona refinery underscores its strategic importance to Imperial’s operations. As the largest refinery in western Canada, Strathcona provides valuable fuel products that keep our communities and the economy moving.

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