China offers support for new Edmonton refinery

China offers support for new Edmonton refinery

A subsidiary of China's Sinopec has partnered up with a First Nations consortium to develop plans to build a bitumen refinery near Edmonton.

The Alberta First Nations Energy Centre will include a bitumen upgrader/refinery and petrochemical facility with the capacity to process 167,000 bbl/day of diluted bitumen. The project developers have already secured 2,400 acres of land in Lamont County, located northeast of Edmonton.

The former Alberta Conservatives rejected an offer to support the project back in 2012. The same First Nations community had asked the province for the same deal struck with Northwest Refining, operators of the new Sturgeon Refinery.

The group says the refined products will be destined for export, although it is unclear where the products and how it will be exported.

Alberta's current NDP government was very critical of that deal during the last election campaign. The government has yet to comment on this latest announcement, and so far has not committed any taxpayer funds.

The group says the project will undergo scoping work over the next 24 months while Stantec kicks-off the environmental permitting and regulatory review process. The facility has a preliminary price tag of $8.5 billion, with funding expected to be provided by Sinopec and a Chinese construction firm.

If all goes according to plan, construction should begin in 2021 with commissioning targeted for 2025. The group says it hopes to get all its regulatory permits in place within two years.

Sinopec is the world's largest oil refining, gas and petrochemical conglomerate, headquartered in Beijing.

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