Imperial Oil plans world-class renewable diesel facility

  • Sep 09, 2021
  • The Chemical Engineer

CANADIAN oil major Imperial Oil is advancing plans for a 1bn L/y renewable diesel complex at its Strathcona refinery near Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

Imperial CEO Brad Corson said it would be the largest renewable diesel manufacturing facility in the country.

According to Imperial, third-party studies show that renewable diesel from various non-petroleum feedstocks can reduce lifecycle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by about 40–80% compared to petroleum-based diesel.

Th announced project is expected to realise potential emissions savings of about 3m t/y in Canada’s transport sector, producing 1bn L/y of renewable diesel from locally-sourced and grown feedstocks.

For production, blue hydrogen (produced using natural gas with use of CCS) will be sourced, enabling savings compared to conventionally-produced hydrogen. Approximately 500,000 t/y of CO2 is expected to be captured.

Blue hydrogen will then be combined with biofeedstock using a proprietary catalyst to produce premium low-carbon diesel fuel.

Imperial is undertaking the project in partnership with industry and government, including the Government of Alberta and the Government of British Columbia (BC). The latter agreed to support the project under Part 3 of its low-carbon fuel legislation. Under this legislation, the BC Government can enter into agreements with Part 3 fuel suppliers if it is satisfied those actions proposed by the supplier have a “reasonable” possibility of reducing CO2e emissions resulting from fuel use. BC defines Part 3 fuels as gasoline or diesel class fuel.

The project is expected to create around 600 direct construction jobs, and hundreds more through investment from business partners.

A final investment decision will be based on several factors, including government support and approvals, market conditions, and economic competitiveness.

Renewable diesel production is expected to begin in 2024.

Corson stated that the announcement “further demonstrates Imperial’s commitment and support for Canada’s transition to lower-emission fuels, as well as Canada’s ambition to achieve net zero by 2050”.

In June, Imperial announced its participation as a founding member of the Oil Sands Pathways to Net Zero initiative. The initiative aims to work collectively with the broader oil and gas industry and the federal and Alberta governments to achieve net zero GHG emissions from oil sands operations by 2050 to support Canada in meeting its climate goals, including Paris Agreement commitments and 2050 net zero aspirations.

The Oil Sands Pathways to Net Zero alliance was created by Canadian Natural, Cenovus Energy, Imperial, MEG Energy and Suncor Energy, companies that account for 90% of Canada’s oil sands production.