Canadian Oil Sands

The first commercial oil sands project commissioned in Canada was Suncor’s Millennium mine in 1967. Since then one mine extension and two ‘debottlenecking’ projects have been commissioned to improve efficiency of existing operations, resulting in Suncor having an operating capacity of 321,000 barrels per day. No dates have been given for the commissioning of the additional three mining projects in the pipeline: Voyageur South phase 1 (120,000 barrels per day); Fort Hills phase 1 (165,000 barrels per day); and a Fort Hills ‘debottlenecking’ project (25,000 barrels per day). However, the furthest along are the company’s ‘Fort Hills’ projects, which have already been granted regulatory approval.
Syncrude’s project at Mildred Lake and Aurora is another early play. The first phase of the project was commissioned in 1978 followed by two more phases bringing the production capacity to 407,000 barrels per day in 2006. New operations on the site will focus on improving the efficiency of operations and has plans for a 46,500 barrel per day ‘debottlenecking’ project and a 139,500 barrel per day stage 4 expansion project, probably because the original project is near the end of its natural life.
Big oil and gas players Shell, Chevron and Marathon are partners in the Athabasca Oil Sands Project (ASOP), which has a portfolio of 770,000 barrels per day of oil sands projects in operation and under development. Only two projects are operating: Muskeg River, which started producing in 2002, and Phase 1 A of the Jackpine mine, which started producing in September 2010, with a combined capacity of 255,000 barrels per day. Regulatory approval has been received for new capacity additions to these projects. The third project site to be developed as part of the AOSP will be the Pierre River site, which should have an eventual capacity of 200,000 barrels per day by the commissioning of two 100,000 barrel per day phases.