Cogeneration plant operational to power Imperial oil sands refinery in Canada

A newly constructed cogeneration unit is now in operation at an Alberta oil refinery.

Imperial is now operating the combined heat and power (CHP) unit at the Strathcona refinery near Edmonton. The cogeneration unit produces electricity and utilizes captured heat from the generation unit to produce steam for refinery operations.

“This is great news for our province,” said Alberta Premier Jason Kenney. “Our day-to-day lives are still dependent on our natural resources to provide us with the energy we need to thrive. That’s why I’m so pleased to see made-in-Alberta innovations like this, which help reduce our emissions as we utilize the energy we need.”

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Electricity produced by the Strathcona cogeneration unit meets approximately 75 to 80 percent of the refinery’s needs, significantly decreasing energy consumption from the Alberta grid. The unit produces approximately 41 MW and reduces province-wide greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 112,000 metric tonnes per year, which is the equivalent to taking nearly 24,000 vehicles off the road annually, according to Imperial.

The cogeneration unit is the company’s third in Alberta, with others in operation at the Kearl and Cold Lake oil sands facilities.

“The completion of this project is an important milestone for Imperial,” said Brad Corson, Imperial chairman, president and CEO. “It highlights our commitment to investing in projects that support sustainability and contribute to reducing emissions. An investment in cogeneration is an investment in the future.”

The province of Alberta has approximately 165 billion barrels of thick crude bitumen proven reserves in the tight sands. Mined and steam-assisted daily production averages about 2.8 million barrels per day, according to reports.

The thick oil must be cleaned, liquefied, upgraded and refined before going into transport for delivery and consumption. Canada reportedly has the largest oil reserves in the world after Venezuela and Saudi Arabia.

(Rod Walton is content director for Power Engineering and the POWERGEN+ series. He can be reached at 918-831-9177 and

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