Commissioning activities are continuing at the Sturgeon Refinery as the plant gets its last two units up and running.
In an August 31 update, the Northwest Redwater Partnership (NWR) reported that the two units--the LC Finer and the gasifier--will come online once inspections and tests are finalized.
“At that point, the refinery can begin to process bitumen from Alberta’s oil sands,” NWR said in the update, calling the switch to bitumen feedstock the plant’s “last major milestone” in reaching planned operations.
“Converting the refinery to bitumen feedstock and achieving safe, reliable operations is the near term focus of North West Redwater Partnership’s team.”
The refinery has produced 6 million barrels of diesel since November 2017, enough to fuel 4 million fire trucks or 1 million combines according to NWR.
Workforce numbers at the plant continue to decline, with about 700 people now working at the refinery every day, including contractors, start-up crews and NWR employees. The refinery expects to see a long-term workforce of about 450 once the plant is fully operational.
Passersby may notice more flaring activities than usual at the refinery as crews continue to test systems and units to make sure they’re working properly.
“A flare management plan helps guide and manage flaring during start up,” NWR said.
Road work at the intersection of Highway 643 and Range Road 220 at the entrance to the refinery should wrap up in November. The work will realign the range road north and south of the highway.
NWR also reported that over 95 per cent of waste generated during construction of the refinery has been recycled instead of being sent to landfills, with the cash proceeds going to help community groups.
“Items such as copper wire, scrap metal, and beverage containers were returned for a refund, and those funds were earmarked for community investment,” NWR said. “All that waste was turned into half a million dollars of worth in local playgrounds, food banks, 4-H public speaking, town festivals, library technology, seniors mentoring, youth athlete training, and more.”