Emerson Wins Automation Contract for Long Lake Oil Sands Pro

Emerson Process Management has won a $27 million contract to serve as general automation contractor for a $2.6 billion oil sands extraction project in Canada.

The Long Lake Oil Sands Extraction Project, 200 miles north of Edmonton, Alberta, is a joint venture by Canadian companies OPTI Canada Inc. and Nexen Inc. It will be the oil and gas industry's first project to combine an oil sands extraction facility that recovers and dilutes bitumen with a field upgrader that processes the bitumen into synthetic crude. The operation will result in the production of approximately 60,000 barrels per day of synthetic crude within three years.

The joint venture's adoption of Emerson's PlantWeb(R) digital architecture to deliver process automation and asset optimization was key in reducing the total project automation budget to $91 million from the original $152 million estimate, which was based on traditional control and systems technology. Emerson's smart safety instrumented system (SIS) will enable the Long Lake Project to use digital intelligence to maximize plant and personnel safety.

Emerson and Spartan Controls Ltd., its local business partner in Alberta, will also provide engineering, project management, commissioning, and ongoing maintenance and operations support.

By combining its automation and project management expertise with the front-end design and construction led by engineering and procurement contractors, Emerson expects the digital solution will assist OPTI Canada Inc. in delivering annual operations and maintenance savings of $4.2 million for the upgrader.

Finding ways to reduce the high cost of oil sands extraction and processing in this remote area has been a key objective of project planners, according to George Cushon, project manager of automation for OPTI Canada Inc.

"Costs in the automation area will be controlled through the application of advanced technologies, and leveraging of Emerson's advanced control service capabilities and expertise. The all-digital plant utilizing Emerson's PlantWeb is another important step in reducing capital and operational costs while improving plant safety, reliability and productivity," Cushon said.

"We are extremely pleased with this opportunity to serve as general automation contractor and implement our PlantWeb with FOUNDATION fieldbus automation technology to improve the efficiency and economics of oil sands processing," said John Berra, president of Emerson Process Management. "We're committed to helping the Long Lake Project achieve safety and operational excellence in the production of synthetic crude, while controlling costs."