Project update: Strathcona refinery reaches mid-point in co-generation facility construction

On track for 2020 start-up


Project update: Strathcona refinery reaches mid-point in co-generation facility construction
The cogeneration unit is being built within the existing Strathcona refinery, located at 3400 Baseline Road, near Edmonton, Alberta.

As construction of the co-generation facility passes the midpoint it’s a good time to share an update on this project that will significantly improve the energy efficiency of Imperial’s world-class Strathcona refinery.

The site outside of Edmonton was a hive of activity over the last 18 months while all the necessary underground infrastructure and associated civil work took place.

The gas turbine generator, fuel gas compressor and other major pieces of equipment central to the generation of electricity, have also arrived and been installed.

“Things will continue to move quickly in this next phase as the above-ground facility – including completion of the building enclosures - takes shape,” says Imperial’s project executive Karl Pierzchajlo.

Soon after, activity will again be less visible as the plethora of instrumentation and electrical work takes centre stage. Workers will begin installing hundreds of kilometres of cabling that will connect all the pieces together through 2019, followed by several months of testing and commissioning, with a planned start up in the second half of 2020.

When completed, the co-generation facility will meet up to 80 percent of the refinery’s electricity needs. The process captures gas that is a byproduct of refinery operations and uses it to power the generator that produces the electricity. The waste heat from the process then produces steam that will be used to supply about half of the requirements for refinery operations.

The power we will generate (estimated at 41 megawatts per day on average) will allow the refinery to be much more self-sufficient while reducing provincial greenhouse gasses by about 112,000 tonnes per year.

“The improved energy efficiency from using refinery off-gas to co-generate electricity and steam, while not having to buy electricity from the provincial grid, is a net emissions reduction for the environment,” says Pierzchajlo.

At a time when refineries around the globe are shutting down due to inefficiencies, 70-year-old Strathcona’s leadership in innovation shines as an example of sustainable operations. That’s important because as the largest refinery in western Canada, Strathcona provides about one third of the fuel that keeps western Canada and its economy moving.

About cogeneration

In a refinery, cogeneration technology captures heat generated from the production of electricity to produce steam for use in refining operations, ultimately increasing energy efficiency and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Electricity produced by the cogeneration unit will provide sufficient power to meet approximately 75 to 80 percent of the refinery’s needs, significantly decreasing energy consumption from the Alberta grid.

The waste heat from the gas turbine is transferred to the heat recovery steam generator to produce steam used in the refining process.

The new cogeneration unit will allow the refinery to retire one of its four existing boilers.