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Imperial Oil To Move Ahead With Kearl Oil Sands Project

Imperial Oil Limited’s board of directors approved the first phase of the Kearl oil sands project, a surface mining operation northeast of Fort McMurray, Alberta. Imperial is an affiliate of Exxon Mobil Corporation, which owns 69.6% of the outstanding shares.

The Kearl project is envisioned to be developed in three phases and could ultimately produce more than 300,000 barrels a day of bitumen. The first phase of the project, expected to begin production in late 2012 with total production to average 110,000 barrels per day, is anticipated to cost about C$8 billion (US$7.1 billion) or approximately C$4.50 (US$4.00) per barrel to construct.

Imperial Oil is one of Canada’s largest corporations and a leading member of the country’s petroleum industry. It is one of the country’s largest producers of crude oil and natural gas, is the nation’s largest petroleum refiner, and has a leading market share in petroleum products sold through a coast-to-coast supply network that includes about 1,900 service stations.


Henry Gibson

The market price for crude oil is still above the operating costs of tar sands extraction. This cost could be reduced significantly with the immediate order and installation of the proven CANDU 600 reactor in an area close enough to provide steam. Much of the cost of the reactor will be reduced if no high power steam turbine is installed, and most of the heat used for bitumen extraction instead. The hot water or steam pipes can be insulated with permanent foam glass. As an alternative to hot water a low pressure hot heat transfer oil is recomended.

Whilst nuclear electricity is about as expensive as coal fired electricity in Canada, nuclear heat is the cheapest very high temperature heat available on the planet because the fuel is cheap and the means of collecting it is less than solar for example.

There are vast stores of heavy water not now in use in Canada and these could be leased to reduce the capital cost of the reactor.

Prior to finishing the reactor, a wet air oxidation system can be installed to provide heat from water bourne oil residues. These residues can be collected by various means including activated carbon which can be regenerated by the PACT WAO process.

Ordinary wet-air-oxidation can be tuned to produce carbolixic acids, such as acetic acid, that can be used to make fuels or used as chemical feed stocks. They can also be decomposed to methane.

Super-critical water can dissolve hydrocarbons and can oxidise them in seconds or even produce hydrogen. Modern materials can now be used to make such reactor vessels with a bit of cleveness.

Carbon Dioxide is used to extract oil from oil fields and a bit of hydrogen sulphide seems to help. Can CO2 be used economically to extract Bitumen.

All the Canadian coal and gas fired generating stations should be replaced with CANDU generators so that the CO2 equivalents can be used instead to extract and refine expensive oil to sell to the US and the natural gas as well.

Extensive research should now be done on how much methane is released by reservoirs for hydro-electric generation, so that the low green-house-gas claims of hydro-electricity can be examened with known facts.


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