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Imperial’s $450M Grand Rapids development a change from initial Cold Lake expansion plans

Imperial’s $450 million Grand Rapids development at their Cold Lake operations is just a change to the previously announced Cold Lake Expansion project, and not a separate development.

The oil company announced the shift during their Investor Day last week which will allow them to use existing infrastructure while expanding their steam operations.

The project is turning to a phased approach, said John Whelan, SVP, Imperial Oil at the Investor Day.

“We are planning on developing this in three or four phases, over a fairly long time horizon and what that will enable us to do is use existing facilities, de-risk future phases capturing and applying lessons learned, and optimizing across Cold Lake the best for our available steam,” he said.

“We’ll start drilling in the second quarter of next year and we plan to start up in 2021.”

15,000 bbls/day production is expected during the first phase.

Whelan said the Cold Lake Expansion Project would have required the construction of another steam plant at their underperforming Nabiye wells at roughly $2.4 billion, which would’ve started in 2023 and ran for 30 years.

The Cold Lake Expansion Project was in two years of environmental hurdles from 2016 to 2018.

An appeal was filed to the Alberta Energy Regulator by Elizabeth Metis Settlement but an agreement was reached before the appeal.

Imperial using new technology

The Nabiye plant capacity will be used to develop the Grand Rapids reservoir.

The Grand Rapids development would be industry’s first SA-SAGD (Solvent-assisted Steam Assisted Gravity Drainage), which is a co-injection of solvent with steam to thin bitumen.

Imperial filed an application to the Alberta Energy Regulator about the enhanced bitumen recovery pilot next to the Aspen project, which has since been put on hold.

Imperial believes by 2040, they will have saved $2 billion by using this phased-in approach.

Cold Lake’s total operation production is 140 kbd and is anticipated to rise to 150 kbd by 2023.

“Clearly, Cold Lake is going to be a big part of our portfolio for many years and decades to come.”