Around 50 million hours of work later, construction of the Sturgeon Refinery is almost done.
With eight of ten units now complete and in various stages of startup, the refinery is another step closer to full operations. Personnel are working to validate procedures and make sure equipment is running properly.
Construction of the last two units should finish up this spring.
"Once the last part of the refinery is finished construction, and that's going to come up in the very near future, then we will be able to start up those two big units. And then once those are running properly, then we can actually put bitumen into the refinery. And that's what it's designed to do, is take bitumen from Alberta's oil sands and process that to a product that is about three times the value," said North West Redwater Partnership's external relations manager Vanessa Goodman.
The refinery hit an important milestone in December when it began producing diesel.
"It's one of the milestones in a series of big milestones on our way to being fully commercially operational this year," Goodman said.
The refinery now employs about 2,500 workers a day, down from over 8,000 during peak construction.
As part the building process, the North West Redwater Partnership is running a recycling program that provides funding for local groups and programs. Discarded bottles and cans are collected onsite, with the proceeds going to food banks, youth programming, libraries, seniors lodges and other causes.