Austin, Texas -- May 24 -- Emerson Process Management has been awarded a contract to digitally automate an oil-sands bitumen upgrader facility to be constructed by North West Upgrading 28 miles northeast of Edmonton, Alberta.
The upgrader will process bitumen, a molasses-like viscous oil, into light, low sulphur products such as diluents and ultra-low sulphur diesel, as well as other products used by refineries to produce gasoline. Under the contract, Emerson will provide digital automation services and install its PlantWeb digital architecture that networks intelligent digital technology throughout processing facilities.
The $2.6-billion North West Upgrader project will be constructed in three phases. The facility built in the first phase, with construction to begin in late 2007, will process 77,000 barrels of bitumen blend per day and is expected to be operational in 2010. When the entire facility is completed in 2015, the upgrader will have a total processing capacity of 231,000 barrels per day. The bitumen, blended with a light liquid condensate, will be transported to the upgrader via pipelines from the oil sands region of northern Alberta.
Canadian oil sands - with reserves that are second only to Saudi Arabia's oil reserves - are expected to be a key resource in meeting the world's petroleum demand for the next century.
Finding ways to reduce the high cost of both construction and oil-sands processing is a key objective of project planners, according to Robert Pearce, president of North West Upgrading. "By standardizing on Emerson's PlantWeb technology, we expect to achieve a consistent and durable process. This technology will be an important factor in reducing costs while supporting plant reliability and productivity."
North West is relying on Emerson to supply the full scope of automation products and services through its local business partner Spartan Controls Ltd. and Emerson's Hydrocarbon and Energy Industry Center in Calgary. This team is currently developing plant-wide automation standards to ensure that individual process units integrate smoothly into the overall upgrading process.
Emerson will supply engineering and project management throughout the three phases of construction, hands-on commissioning of automation products and systems, and ongoing service support.