As the only processor of oil sands upgrader offgas in the world and the owner of the only fractionator capable of processing offgas liquids in Canada, Williams is well-positioned for growth. Through our operations in Fort McMurray and in Sturgeon County near Edmonton, we are providing both significant environmental benefits and high-value oil and gas upgrading services to oil sands upgraders.
Alberta’s oil sands contain the largest known reserve of oil in the world with an estimated 1.7 trillion barrels of bitumen trapped in a complex mixture of sand, water and clay. The bitumen is a tar-like substance, too thick and sticky to flow through conventional pipelines, which must be washed out of the sand using high-pressure steam.
To convert the bitumen into usable oil it is heated to high temperatures in cokers, producing in the process something called “offgas,” rich in natural gas liquids (NGLs) and olefins, or basic petrochemicals.
The work undertaken at our partner’s facilities reduces their emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) — a greenhouse gas — by an average of 300,000 tonnes each year and cuts emissions of sulphur dioxide (SO2) — a contributor to acid rain — by an average of 3,200 tonnes each year. Once we expand our services to Canadian Natural Resources’ Horizon Plant we will reduce the oil sands upgraders’ greenhouse gas emissions by an average of 500,000 tonnes each year.
To make this contribution, Williams has invested more than $1.5 billion, and employs nearly 100 people in the province to produce 25,000 barrels per day of high-value natural gas liquids and olefins, much of which is sold across North America.
Petrochemical production is one of the largest manufacturing industries in Alberta, accounting for more than $13 billion worth of products and more than $7.4 billion worth of exports each year, and is a key component in the Alberta government’s effort to ensure the value-added upgrading of Alberta’s energy resources takes place in the province.
Williams is pleased to be able to contribute to the pursuit of this goal.