Kearl Oil Sands Project

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Kearl Oil Sands Project
Athabasca Oil Sands map.png
Kearl Oil Sands Project is located in Canada
Kearl Oil Sands Project
Location of the Kearl Oil Sands Project
LocationWestern Canadian Sedimentary Basin
Offshore/onshoreOnshore, unconventional
Coordinates57°17′43″N 111°14′47″W / 57.29524°N 111.24644°W / 57.29524; -111.24644Coordinates: 57°17′43″N 111°14′47″W / 57.29524°N 111.24644°W / 57.29524; -111.24644
Imperial Oil

The Kearl Oil Sands Project is an oil sands mine in the Athabasca Oil Sands region at the Kearl Lake area, about 70 kilometres (43 mi) north of Fort McMurray in Alberta, Canada. The project is being developed in three phases with the first phase completed mid-2013.[1][2]

Project description[edit]

The development is an open-pit mining operation, which will be developed in three stages. At the first stage it will produce approximately 110,000-barrel-per-day (17,000 m3/d), with later expansions to more than 300,000 barrels per day (48,000 m3/d).[1][3] It uses a froth treatment technology[2] producing blended bitumen which will be transported to the Edmonton area by Enbridge's pipeline system.[4] Diluent would be provided from Edmonton through the Inter Pipeline owned 454 kilometres (282 mi) long 12 inches (300 mm) diameter pipeline supplying the Athabasca Oil Sands Project. The Kearl oil sands facilities would be connected with this pipeline by a 50 kilometres (31 mi) long new branch.[5]

At the first stage the development would involve capital spending of about C$8 billion, with the final estimate being highly dependent on the final upgrading option selected. An engineering, procurement, and construction management contract for the first phase was awarded to AMEC while Fluor Corp. is responsible for the development of infrastructure and facilities.[1][6][7]

When ExxonMobil proposed the Kearl project in 1997, estimated recoverable bitumen resources were 1.2 to 1.4 billion barrels (220×10^6 m3). Later revisions place the actual established reserves at over 5.5 billion barrels (870×10^6 m3) (Energy Resources Conservation Board 2010).[8]

The development is located on the following oil-sands leases:[9]

  • Leases 6 and 87, in which Imperial holds 100 percent of the mining rights. Areas deemed suitable for surface mining are primarily in the western part of Lease 6 and the northwestern part of Lease 87 (Imperial Oil, ExxonMobil 2009-07).
  • Lease 36 and 31A, in which ExxonMobil Canada holds 100% of the mining rights.


Imperial Oil Resources owns 70% of the project and ExxonMobil Canada Ltd. owns 30%.[6]

Regulatory agencies[edit]

  • Energy Resources Conservation Board


Sierra Legal launched legal action in Canadian federal courts to overturn the Department of Fisheries and Oceans regulatory approval (Ecojustice Canada 2007-03-30).[10] They said that[citation needed] the joint federal-Alberta regulatory panel "failed to do its job" when it gave conditional approval to the $7 billion Kearl open-pit mine.[11] They argued that a full environmental review must take place before the federal government decides whether the project should proceed.

After a joint federal-provincial panel reviewed and upheld the original decision, a key water permit was reinstated, pending approval from Imperial's board of directors.[12] Delayed again in response to the 2008 fall in oil prices, Imperial Oil decided in May 2009 to proceed with the project, taking advantage of the soft local economy to cut costs.[13][14]

The Alberta Federation of Labour criticised the plan's lack of an upgrader, as "that's where the real jobs are", referring to the intent to pipe diluted bitumen south for upgrading.[15]

Residents of Idaho and Montana have criticized the plan to transport "Oversized Loads" of prefabricated parts of oil extraction "modules" over U.S. Route 12 along the narrow curving byways of the Clearwater and Lochsa River of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System, over Lolo Pass, through Missoula, Montana,[16] and into Alberta.

Kearl Module Transportation Project[edit]

Mammoet, a developer and user of Self Propelled Modular Transporters is using SPMTs (14 Line 16' Wide Goldhofer Hydraulic Platform Trailer) [17] in conjunction with Class 8 Tractors [18] to transport modules (deemed "oversized loads") of oil extraction parts on the "Kearl Module Transportation Project" from the port of Lewiston, Idaho, through the U.S. states of Idaho and Montana to the Kearl Oil Sands Project.[19][20]


  1. ^ a b c "Fluor Secures EPC Contract for First Phase of Kearl Oil Sands Project". Downstream Today. 7 July 2009. Retrieved 2009-07-08.
  2. ^ a b Kelly Cryderman (April 28, 2013). "Imperial Oil finally producing bitumen at Kearl mine". The Globe and Mail. Calgary. Retrieved April 28, 2013.
  3. ^ "Imperial Oil Approves First Phase of Kearl Oil Sands Project". Downstream Today. 2009-05-26. Retrieved 2009-07-08.
  4. ^ "Enbridge to Develop Pipeline System for Kearl Oil Sands Project". Downstream Today. 2009-06-22. Retrieved 2009-07-08.
  5. ^ "Inter Pipeline Inks Transportation Agreement for Kearl Oil Sands Project". Downstream Today. 26 May 2009. Retrieved 2009-07-08.
  6. ^ a b "Fluor bags Kearl Alberta deal". Upstream Online. NHST Media Group. 7 July 2009. Retrieved 2009-07-08.
  7. ^ "Clearing the way for Kearl". Oilweek Magazine. JuneWarren-Nickle's Energy Group. September 2009. Archived from the original on 2011-10-02. Retrieved 2010-06-06.
  8. ^ ERCB, Energy Resources Conservation Board (June 2010). "Annual 2009 ECRB Energy Reserves Outlook" (PDF). Energy Resources Conservation Board. Retrieved 2010-07-30. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  9. ^ Imperial Oil, ExxonMobil (November 2003). "Kearl oil sands project description" (PDF). Executive Council of Alberta. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-05-25. Retrieved 2009-07-07. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  10. ^ "Environmental groups sue over Kearl project". The Globe and Mail. 2007-03-30. (subscription required). Retrieved 2007-03-30.[permanent dead link]
  11. ^ "Joint Review Panel Established by the Alberta Energy and Utilities Board and the Government of Canada" (PDF). Energy Resources Conservation Board. 2007-02-27. Retrieved 2014-01-02. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  12. ^ "Imperial Oil gets green light to break ground on Kearl Project". CBC News. 2008-06-06. Retrieved 2009-07-07.
  13. ^ Guntis Moritis (2009-05-29). "Imperial Oil approves Kearl oil sands project". Oil & Gas Journal. PennWell Corporation. 107: 41. (subscription required). Retrieved 2009-07-07.
  14. ^ "Oil sands development: Imperial gives green light to phase one Kearl project". Canadian Mining Journal. 2009-05-27. Retrieved 2009-07-07.[permanent dead link]
  15. ^ Carol Christian (29 May 2009). "Labour federation warns jobs will head south". Fort McMurray Today. Retrieved 2009-07-07.
  16. ^ "Big Oil Threatens Adventure Cycling Routes". We Bike Eugene. September 2010.
  17. ^ Mammoet drawing of using 14 Line 16' Wide Goldhofer Hydraulic Platform Trailer on the Kearl Module Transportation Project
  18. ^ "Mammoet using Kenworth C-500 or T-800 or Western Star 4900 on Kearl Module Transportation Project" (PDF).
  19. ^ "Golden Triangle News > Archives > Shelby Promoter > News > Public comment sought on Imperial Oil's Kearl project". April 21, 2010.
  20. ^ "Extreme Logistics moving giant construction modules from Korea to Alberta: Cargo Business Newswire".

External links[edit]