The Strathcona refinery is expected to start producing renewable diesel in 2025. ExxonMobil via Business Wire.
Imperial Oil announced the investment decision for the Strathcona refinery renewable diesel project in January 2023. Photo: ExxonMobil via Business Wire.
The Strathcona refinery has been operational since 1975. Photo: ExxonMobil via Business Wire.

Canadian petroleum refiner Imperial Oil, which is 69.6% owned by US-based oil and gas company Exxon Mobil, is constructing a renewable diesel production facility at its existing Strathcona refinery near Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

With a capacity to produce 20,000 barrels per day or one billion litres per year of renewable diesel from locally sourced feedstock, it will be the largest such facility in Canada.

Imperial Oil announced the final investment decision for the C$720m ($560m) project in January 2023.

The Strathcona refinery renewable diesel facility is expected to commence production in 2025. It forms part of Exxon Mobil’s plan to invest $17bn in lower-emission projects through to 2027.

The project is expected to create 600 direct construction jobs and offset up to three million tonnes of transportation emissions a year. It is in line with the federal and Alberta provincial governments’ vision of achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions from oil sands operations by 2050.

Strathcona refinery renewable diesel project details

Imperial Oil announced the plan to build and integrate a renewable diesel production complex into the existing Strathcona refinery in August 2021.

The new facility will produce premium quality, low-emission diesel fuel by using low-carbon hydrogen and locally sourced bio feedstock such as canola, soy, or sunflower oils combined with a proprietary catalyst.

The low-carbon hydrogen to be used by the facility will be produced from natural gas with carbon capture and storage technology. The project will involve capturing up to 500,000 tonnes per annum (tpa) of carbon dioxide from natural gas.

A portion of the renewable diesel produced at the Strathcona refinery will be supplied to Alberta’s neighbouring province British Columbia.

The British Columbia government entered an agreement with Imperial Oil in 2021 to support the development of the Strathcona renewable diesel project under its low-carbon fuel legislation.

Strathcona refinery details

The Strathcona refinery, located in Strathcona County, east of Edmonton, has been operational since 1976. It is one of the biggest refineries in Western Canada. It processes up to 200,000 barrels of oil per day (bopd), accounting for about 30% of Western Canada’s total refining capacity.

The refinery produces petroleum products, including gasoline, diesel, aviation fuels, motor oils, liquid petroleum gas, and asphalt.

Processing infrastructure at the refinery includes atmospheric and vacuum distillation units, catalytic reforming and fluid catalytic cracker units, and diesel hydrotreating and hydrofluoric acid alkylation units.

Imperial Oil commissioned a cogeneration plant at the Strathcona refinery in October 2020. It produces electricity and heating for the refinery, using gas as the primary fuel.

Contractors involved

US-based engineering and construction company Fluor was contracted to design and integrate the renewable diesel facility into the existing Strathcona refinery in October 2022. The company is responsible for the front-end engineering and design (FEED), engineering, and procurement services for the project.

The scope of the contract also includes utility tie-ins and the integration of electrical and control systems and commodity storage, loading, and uploading capabilities.

Air Products, a US-based liquefied natural gas process technology and equipment supplier, was awarded a long-term contract to supply low-carbon hydrogen for the renewable diesel facility at Strathcona in September 2022.

The facility will receive via a pipeline the supply of nearly half of the low-carbon hydrogen produced at Air Products’ C$1.6bn ($1.2bn) hydrogen production complex, which is currently under construction in Edmonton, Alberta.