Imperial Oil Announces First Production From Kearl Oil Sands Project

  • Technology innovations signal next generation of oil-sands mining
  • Kearl key step in Imperial’s plan to double production to 600,000 barrels per day by 2020
  • First of three froth trains producing bitumen

Calgary, April 27, 2013 - Imperial Oil Limited today announced the start-up of the initial development of the Kearl oil sands project, which incorporates next-generation technology innovations that significantly enhance environmental performance.

“Kearl is a historic development for Imperial,” said Rich Kruger, Imperial Oil chairman and CEO. “Kearl is the largest project we’ve ever undertaken and the beginning of a period of substantial growth for the company that will see us double production to more than 600,000 barrels per day by about 2020.”

Production of mined diluted bitumen from the first of three froth treatment trains has begun. Start-up of two additional bitumen froth trains will proceed in sequence as planned, bringing production from the initial development to an expected 110,000 barrels per day later in 2013.

Diluted bitumen produced from Kearl will have about the same life-cycle greenhouse-gas emissions as many other crude oils refined in the United States as a result of technologies which significantly enhance environmental performance. Energy needs have been reduced by using a proprietary froth treatment process that eliminates the need to build an upgrader; and through installation of energy-saving cogeneration capabilities.

Other environmental innovations include on-site water storage to eliminate river withdrawals in low-flow periods, progressive land reclamation, earlier tailings reclamation than other oilsands operations and a state-of-the-art waterfowl deterrent system.

“Our goal with Kearl is to approach development differently to better address environmental challenges and more closely meet the expectations of stakeholders in developing a critical resource,” Kruger said. “I believe we have achieved this.”

An expansion phase at Kearl will add another 110,000 barrels per day by late 2015 and future debottlenecking will increase output to reach the regulatory capacity of 345,000 barrels per day by about 2020.

The Kearl project, located about 75 kilometres northeast of Fort McMurray, Alberta, is expected to recover approximately 4.6 billion barrels of bitumen over an estimated project life of more than 40 years.

Construction of the initial development entailed 45 million person hours of work and employed a peak workforce of more than 5,000 people. Of the project’s total cost, more than $1 billion was directed to local suppliers and contractors in the Wood Buffalo region, of which more than 25 percent are Aboriginal-owned and operated.

“Our project team and our construction workforce achieved industry-leading safety performance, and our environmental performance will be enhanced through new technologies and innovation that make Kearl a next-generation oil-sands mining development,” Kruger said.


Imperial Oil is one of Canada's largest corporations and a leading member of the country's petroleum industry. The company is a major producer of crude oil and natural gas, Canada’s largest petroleum refiner, a key petrochemical producer and a leading marketer with coast-to-coast supply and service station networks.