CNRL Picks Emerson for Horizon Project Automation

Emerson Process Management has been awarded a contract by Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. to digitally automate the first phase of its US$9.4 billion Horizon Oil Sands Project, located 75 miles northwest of Fort McMurray, Alta.

Under the contract, Emerson will lead the automation of facilities that recover and upgrade bitumen into sweetened synthetic crude oil. The contract is for the first phase of the Horizon project, which will allow CNRL to produce 110,000 barrels per day of synthetic crude oil. Phase 1 of the project is scheduled to start production in the second half of 2008. In all, three phases are planned for the project, raising total production to 232,000 barrels per day upon completion in 2012.

Oil sands account for one-half of Canada's crude oil output and approximately 10 percent of overall oil production in North America.

"Risk mitigation was a primary concern of the Horizon project team," said Bob Wing, project coordinator at CNRL. "We chose Emerson and the PlantWeb digital plant architecture based on experience in oil sands projects and proven global engineering expertise. Emerson project members will join our Automation Integration Team to ensure an efficient integration of our 10 segregated process areas into a single control room."

More specifically, Emerson will develop specifications for the CNRL project that will be used by all engineering and procurement contractors (EPCs) to ensure consistency and leverage best practices. The Horizon project encompasses 12 different EPCs located around the world. The specifications will guide engineering design, hardware design/layout, and configuration and connection of the digital automation systems that are part of PlantWeb. Emerson engineers and EPCs are currently performing detailed design engineering and system configuration.

"We are excited at being selected by Canadian Natural Resources to provide automation service and technology for its Horizon Oil Sands Project," said John Berra, president of Emerson Process Management. "It is gratifying to join our engineering resources, and the proven innovative technologies of PlantWeb, with the worldwide capabilities that will come together to maximize performance and result in bottom-line benefits on this project."