In 2016, the four refineries in Alberta, with an estimated total throughput of 68.6 103 m3/d─0.43 million barrels per day (106 bbl/d)─of oil, processed 47.0 103 m3/d (0.3 106 bbl/d) of upgraded bitumen, 3.5 103 m3/d (0.02 106 bbl/d) of nonupgraded bitumen, 17.2 103 m3/d (0.11 106 bbl/d) of conventional crude oil, and 0.9 103 m3/d (0.01 106 bbl/d) of pentanes plus.
The first phase of the North West Redwater Partnership Sturgeon refinery is scheduled to come online in 2017. The refinery is designed to process bitumen and will produce approximately 6.4 103 m3/d of ultra-low sulphur diesel, 4.5 103 m3/d of diluent and naphtha, 1.4 103 m3/d of low-sulphur vacuum gas oil, and 0.5 103 m3/d of butanes and propane.
In 2016, Alberta’s refinery utilization was 94.0 per cent, down from 98.6 per cent in 2015 due to facility maintenance.
With NGL production increasing over the last few years, companies have being expanding NGL infrastructure capacity in Alberta, including developing new projects servicing the Montney and Duvernay producing regions.
Keyera completed the expansion of its Fort Saskatchewan fractionation plant, increasing its propane-plus fractionation capacity from 4.8 103 m3/d (30 103 bbl/d) to 10.3 103 m3/d (65 103 bbl/d) in 2016.
Pembina finished expanding its ethane-plus fractionation plant at Redwater in 2016, doubling the company’s ethane-plus fractionation capacity of 11.6 103 m3/d (73 103 bbl/d).
Inter Pipeline’s off-gas liquids extraction facility at CNRL’s Horizon upgrader came on stream in 2016, contributing an additional 2.4 103 m3/d (15 103 bbl/d) of capacity. Combined with the off-gas liquids extraction facility at the Suncor upgrader, the two extraction plants have the capacity to recover 6.3 103 m3/d (40 103 bbl/d) of NGLs and olefins.
Nova Chemicals completed its polyethylene 1 expansion (R3) project at the company’s Joffre site in 2016. The project, which uses ethane as a feedstock, will produce between 0.431 and 0.499 megatonnes per year of linear low-density polyethylene (LLDPE). This will be the first LLDPE startup in more than a decade in Canada or the United States.
Approved processing facility projects are expected to increase recovery of liquids by 30 103 m3/d (189 103 bbl/d) in 2017, from a total recovery of 103 103 m3/d (648 103 bbl/d) in 2016. This increase includes the addition of ethanes-plus and propanes-plus fractionation plants, expansions to NGL-mix processing facilities, a new propane dehydrogenation facility, debottlenecking at current facilities, and new pipeline connections.
As of December 19, 2016, Alberta’s total installed generation capacity, as reported by the Alberta Electric System Operator (AESO), was 16 323 megawatts (MW), of which 7248 MW was gas fired, 6299 MW was coal fired, 1445 MW was wind powered, 894 MW was hydro powered, and 437 MW was from other sources (e.g., biomass, biogas, and solar).
According to the AESO, the percentage of natural gas–fired capacity in the province classified as cogeneration was 64 per cent in 2016. Cogeneration is the combined production of electricity and thermal energy using natural gas as the fuel source. Thermal energy is used for manufacturing, heating, producing steam for in situ oil production, refining, and upgrading.
Alberta’s electricity system has about 26 000 km of transmission lines. It is connected to systems in British Columbia, Saskatchewan, and Montana. These three interties allow Alberta to import or export electricity. In addition to the transmission interties, a natural gas–fired electricity generation unit in Fort Nelson (northern British Columbia) supplies power to the surrounding communities and sells surplus electricity into the Alberta grid.