Imperial Oil seeks approval for gas-fired Alberta cogen project

Imperial Oil applied April 29 to the Alberta Utilities Commission for approval for the construction and operations of a cogeneration power plant and related auxiliary equipment and facilities modifications to the Strathcona Refinery-owned substation.

Imperial will be requesting approval at a later date for a connection order to allow the proposed cogen to generate electricity at 13.8 kV and connect via a new line traveling through the refinery to the refinery-owned substation.The electricity interface from the Alberta Interconnected Electric System (AIES) to the refinery remains unchanged at AltaLink substation 95S.

“The Strathcona Refinery Cogeneration Project will provide new combined electrical power and steam generation facilities in order to improve the energy efficiency and overall competitiveness in the manufacture of petroleum products at the Strathcona Refinery,” the application noted. “The new facilities will help the site create and capture efficiencies associated with (1) generating electrical power onsite to offset import from the AIES and (2) shutting down one existing onsite utility boiler.”

The Strathcona Refinery currently does not have on-site power generation and is supplied with power imports via two 138-kV pole lines feeding AltaLink owned 138/13.8 kV disconnect-switch substation (AltaLink electrical substation #95S), located immediately west of the refinery-owned 13.8-kV main distribution substation.

The Cogeneration Power Plant will include installation of a new 43 MW (ISO) General Electric Frame 6B gas turbine generator (GTG) and electrical facilities to produce approximately 80% of the 53 MW power required by the refinery and integrate the generator into the refinery’s distribution system.

In conjunction with the cogen, there will be a fuel gas-fired heat recovery steam generator (HRSG) constructed which will produce up to 280 thousand pounds per hour of steam to meet about 50% of the refinery needs.

Cogen will use combination of natural gas and refinery gas

Imperial Oil’s Strathcona Refinery is located immediately east of Edmonton in Strathcona County. The refinery processes Alberta light sweet, synthetic and heavy crude oils to produce a variety of products such as gasoline, jet fuel, diesel, lubricating oils, asphalt, heavy fuel oil, propane and butane for markets in Alberta and Western Canada.

The cogen plant will use natural gas fuel from the TransCanada PipeLines Alberta System. The natural gas will be delivered to the plant by pipeline. The natural gas will be used as fuel for the gas turbines as well as for supplemental firing of the heat recovery steam generators. 

The natural gas fuel will be supplemented with produced fuel gas from the Strathcona Refinery. Refinery fuel gas will be delivered to the power plant through facility piping within the refinery. The refinery fuel gas will be used for heat recovery steam generator supplemental firing. The total fuel will typically range between 50% and 85% refinery fuel gas, and between 15% and 50% natural gas. GTG startup and planned shutdown procedures will be on 100% natural gas.

The expected in-service date is September 2016. If the requested approvals are not received by December 2014 then the cogen project would face cost increases for contractors and delayed construction start-up. This could impact refinery operations as a result of inefficient winter construction, which would cause significant operational problems. Extended delay could jeopardize project feasibility, the company noted.

A project contact is: Imperial Oil, 237 Fourth Avenue S.W., P.O. Box 2480, Station ‘M’, Calgary, AB T2P 3M9, Attention: Terry Knight, Refining & Supply Planning Advisor, Phone: (403) 237-3352, Fax: (403) 237-2160, Email:

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.