Market Snapshot: Canada’s 1st refinery in over 30 years comes online near Edmonton, Alberta with greener technology

Release date: 2018-07-04

In late 2017, the Sturgeon Refinery, in Redwater near Edmonton, Alberta produced its first diesel fuel from light crude oil. The refinery is expected to begin full commercial operation in the summer of 2018. When full capacity is reached it will refine up to 79 000 barrels per day of diluted bitumen into diesel and other refined products.Footnote 1,Footnote 2

While Canada’s refining capacity has been constant over the past 3 decades, the number of refineries has decreased from 28 to 17 including the Sturgeon Refinery.

Source and Description

Source: Natural Resources Canada

Description: This stacked bar chart shows the refining capacity per province in barrels per day or cubic meters per day. Capacity is shown for asphalt refineries, other refineries, and the Sturgeon Refinery. Alberta has the highest capacity, totaling 85 901 m³/d (540 100 b/d), of which 4 600 m³/d (29 100 b/d) comes from asphalt refineries, 68 900 m³/d (433 000 b/d) comes from other refineries, and 12 560 m³/d (79 000 b/d) comes from the Sturgeon Refinery. Quebec has the second highest capacity, totaling 63 900 m³/d (402 000 b/d). Ontario has the third highest capacity, totaling 62 600 m³/d (394 500 b/d). New Brunswick has the fourth highest capacity, totaling 47 500 m³/d (298 800 b/d). Saskatchewan has the fifth highest capacity, totaling 24 000 m³/d (151 100 b/d), of which 2 500 m³/d (15 900 b/d) comes from asphalt refineries, and 21 500 m³/d (135 200 b/d) comes from other refineries. Newfoundland and Labrador has the sixth highest capacity, totaling 18 300 m³/d (114 900 b/d). British Columbia has the seventh highest capacity, totaling 10 600 m³/d (66 700 b/d). Alberta and Saskatchewan are the only provinces with asphalt refineries.

The Sturgeon refinery’s technology makes it unique in Canada for several reasons. First, the Sturgeon Refinery features carbon capture and storage technology. The refinery will capture up to 1.2 million tonnes of carbon per year to be transported on the Alberta Carbon Trunk Line (ACTL).

Second, the output from the Sturgeon refinery will consist primarily of ultra-low sulphur diesel (50%), and naphtha and diluent (35%). The ultra-low sulfur diesel from the refinery will contain a lower level of sulphur than the maximum limits outlined in the sulfur in diesel fuel regulation set by the Government of Canada. Also, having access to locally sourced diluent from the refinery will reduce the energy used to transport heavy oil and bitumen, as well as reduce western Canada’s reliance on diluent imports.

Finally, most Canadian refineries require upgraded bitumen which can be emission and resource intensive. The Sturgeon refinery will be able to process ultra-heavy diluted bitumen from the oil sands and avoid upgrading. Sturgeon refined products may have lower lifecycle emissions compared to refined products produced from upgraded bitumen.

For more information and data on crude oil refining in Canada, please visit the NEB’s Crude Runs page.

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