The turnaround at Shell Canada's Muskeg River Mine and Scotford Upgrader has come to a successful close with both operations now officially back online.
"This was a huge undertaking for Shell and we are proud of what the teams at our heavy oil sites accomplished," said Shell Executive Vice President Heavy Oil, John Abbott.
A turnaround is a maintenance, inspection and repair activity that enables large scale operating facilities to continue operating safely, reliably and efficiently for years at a time. Depending on the size and complexity of the facility, major turnarounds generally occur every three to four years. The Muskeg River Mine and Scotford Upgrader, which started operation in late 2003, had their first large turnaround in 2006.
"The complexity of safely and efficiently managing such a large scope of work between two distinct but integrated facilities is a major undertaking," said Abbott, adding that about 4,500 contractors from all major skills and trades were required for the work.
Planning for the event had been underway since early 2007. Maintenance work was completed in just over two months, on time and within budget. Several important projects were completed during the shutdown, including replacing more than 250 valves at the Upgrader, as well as replacing the surge feed conveyor belt and installing new feed wells for the Primary Separation Cells at Muskeg River Mine. In addition, the shutdown allowed for the commissioning of a new 42-inch pipeline between Muskeg River Mine and Scotford ahead of the start-up of our 100,000 barrels per day expansion project which is scheduled to be fully online in early 2011.
Shell's customers were unaffected by the shutdown having been informed well in advance as part of the planning process and made arrangements during the outage period, which began in March of 2010.
Shell Canada Energy is 60% owner with Chevron Canada Limited (20%) and Marathon Oil Sands L.P. (20%) of the Athabasca Oil Sands Project (AOSP), including the Muskeg River Mine and Scotford Upgrader, with a capacity of 155,000 barrels per day.
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