JPT New Oil Sands Development Gets Green Light

Matt Zborowski, Technology Writer 

ExxonMobil’s majority-owned Imperial Oil has made a final investment decision on its 75,000-B/D Aspen oil sands project, the first new oil sands development to be approved in 5 years. Construction on the $2-billion project, located 45 km northeast of Fort McMurray, Alberta, will begin in the fourth quarter, and bitumen production is expected to launch in 2022. Average output could be doubled to 150,000 B/D in future years depending on project performance and business and market conditions, Imperial said in a news release. Approval follows Western Canada Select crude oil prices sliding below $20/bbl as insufficient takeaway capacity has plagued the region. Adding to the glut has been Suncor Energy’s Syncrude oil sands facility, which recently returned to normal operating rates after a major power outage over the summer.