Sept/Oct 2007

Looking forward to Voyageur South expansion

By H. Ednie

Suncor’s planned Voyageur South expansion, once it gets the go-ahead, targets 120,000 barrels of bitumen per day at a preliminary capital cost estimate of $4.4 billion. The company filed for regulatory approval this summer, with aims to begin site preparation and construction activities in 2009 to 2010, with commissioning and startup planned between 2011 and 2013.

“We believe the project has firm benefits for Suncor and for the regional, Alberta, and Canadian economies,” said Rick George, president and CEO. “As we work to manage the impacts of industrial development, we’re also working to mitigate environmental and social impacts of the project through new technologies.”

Of several new technologies proposed for the project, the most significant change planned is the use of mobile ore preparation equipment instead of a truck-and-shovel mining system, which should reduce noise pollution and air emissions, in particular, nitrogen oxides. This approach should require a smaller workforce and will help Suncor to better manage the costs of oil sands mining, from road maintenance to fuel expenditures.

The bitumen produced at the proposed project will join the bitumen feed from other Suncor mining and in-situ operations and third-party supply to provide feedstock flexibility for the company’s upgrading facilities, which have a planned capacity to produce 500,000 to 550,000 barrels of crude oil per day by 2010 to 2012. As well, this increase in bitumen supply will help form the foundation for potential future increases in crude oil production beyond 2012.

At its peak, the expected construction workforce will be approximately 1,800 contractors, to be housed in Suncor camps. The planned operational workforce is approximately 650.

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