Imperial Oil’s proposed Midzaghe project is moving forward, as the company officially filed for regulatory approval with the province last week.
A detailed submission for the $2-billion expansion facility was submitted to the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) on March 11 following nearly a year of public consultations.
Throughout the latter half of 2015, details of the project were presented to Bonnyville and Cold Lake residents during two separate open houses at the Centennial Centre and Riverhurst Hall. Imperial Oil is saying the same thing now as they did then; the development is not guaranteed.
“The filing of the regulatory applications is a preliminary step. No investment decisions have been made on this project,” said spokeswoman Lisa Schmidt in an email to the Nouvelle.
If developed, the 55,000-barrel a day operation would mark a new direction for Imperial Oil, as the facility would be the first at the Cold Lake operations to use solvent-assisted steam-assisted gravity drainage (SA-SAGD) technology. The five current facilities on the Cold Lake oil sands lease – Leming, Maskaw, Mahikan, Mahkeses and Nabiye – all use cyclic steam stimulation (CSS) technology.
Results from Imperial Oil’s successfully pilot of SA-SAGD technology at its Cold Lake operations over the last five years led to the decision to stick with the method. The company expects that SA-SAGD will help them reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 25 per cent compared to existing SAGD technology, as less energy is being used per barrel of bitumen recovered.
If the Cold Lake expansion was to receive regulatory approval, Imperial Oil anticipates construction could start as early as 2019, with production commencing as early as 2022.
“We aren’t immune to the forces that everybody is feeling. We feel the same cost pressures. We are subject to market forces that we don’t control,” said spokesman Pius Rolheiser during the November 2015 open house in Bonnyville.
Imperial Oil says the decision to invest in the project will made after reviewing the business and market conditions at the time.
Bonnyville—Cold Lake MLA Scott Cyr was elated to hear that Imperial Oil was forging ahead with the planned expansion.
“I’m thrilled Imperial Oil remains committed to Alberta during this difficult economic time and during a period of unstable economic policies from our government,” said Cyr in a statement.
“Our people in the Bonnyville – Cold Lake constituency are tremendously hard working and this will send a message of hope to them as they are looking for opportunities to get back to work.”