Imperial's Nabiye Expansion Project in Cold Lake getting ready for start-up
Imperial Oil is getting ready to start steaming their newly commissioned Naibye Expansion Plant, located within their Cold Lake operations near Bonnyville, Alberta. The project will bring an additional 40,000 barrels per day (bpd) of heavy crude oil on-line within the next few months. This latest phase of expansion will bring the total production capacity at Cold Lake to over 180,000 bpd for Imperial Oil. Production could increase to 200,000 bpd as operating efficiencies continue to improve.
Nabiye was estimated to cost $2 billion although Imperial did not confirm the final price tag. The company noted that the Nabiye lease has a production profile of 30 years and is not affected by the current downturn in energy prices. Once operational, the project will boost Imperial's heavy oil production by 10%.
The Cold Lake facility uses Cyclic Steam Stimulation (CSS) technology, where steam is injected into a single well, heating up the surrounding bitumen. Once sufficiently warmed up, the steam is shut-off and the bitumen is pumped out.
A single well is used to both inject steam and pump out the bitumen. css therefore has a smaller footprint than SAGD facilities (steam-assisted gravity drainage) where separate steam and bitumen wells are required.
Nabiye first received regulatory approval in 2004 but the project wasn't sanctioned until 2012. The process was re-tweaked in 2010, incorporating lessons learned from adjacent Cold Lake leases and improving its environmental footprint.
The Nabiye facility includes a state-of-the-art sulphur removal plant, which helps to further reduce sulphur dioxide (SO2) emissions. On average, Imperial Oil's Cold Lake operations recycle 95% of its water, using only 1/2 barrel of fresh water for every barrel of bitumen produced. Nabiye is also equipped with a 170 MW cogeneration power plant, enabling it to feed electricity to the grid, as required. The facility has longer horizontal wells than adjacent leases, allowing for fewer wells and a smaller land disturbance.
Imperial Oil's Cold Lake facility began full scale production in 1985 and is the longest-running thermal in-situ facility in Alberta. Imperial Oil developed CSS technology in the 1960s and is considered a world-leader in in-situ thermal extraction of heavy oil.
The word "Nabiye" is Dene for "otter".