Cenovus proposes Diluent Recovery Unit for Bruderheim

A local energy company is proposing a project that comes with a pretty big price tag.

Cenovus held an open house on Oct 9 to share plans for a possible Diluent Recovery Unit (DRU) next to the Bruderheim Energy Terminal, located on Range Road 202. The open house was one of two for the area, the second took place in Lamont on Oct. 10.

The open house was held at Bruderheim’s Community Hall and served a full meal to local residents, in addition to providing detailed information on the possible DRU plans. The meal was provided by Elsie Matthews for approximately 100 people.

“We wanted to talk to as many people from the community as possible and keep everyone informed,” said Doris Kaufmann Woodcock, Senior External Communications Advisor for Cenovus.

Woodcock noted that residents who live in a specified zone of where the project would happen, received pre-emptive mail outs with detailed information.

In addition, she said the reason a DRU is being looked at, is for another way to be able to ship a larger amount of oil by rail, in absence of additional pipelines being built.

Woodcock explained that bitumen is a very thick semi-solid form of crude oil and does not flow through pipelines on its own. Diluent is added as a thinning agent to the bitumen TO help it flow easier. When the bitumen and diluent are shipped to the Bruderheim Energy Terminal, it shows up as a combined volume of 70 per cent bitumen and 30 per cent diluent. It is then put into rail cars that are shipped to the refineries in the gulf coast. There, the diluent is stripped from the bitumen and shipped back to Cenovus, at their cost, to be re-used.

Having the DRU in place would mean the diluent could be stripped out at the facility near the Bruderheim Energy Terminal, thus freeing up 30 per cent more space for more bitumen. This would not only allow shipping of an additional 60,000 barrels of oil per day, it would also save the cost of having the diluent shipped back from the gulf coast.

“We don’t want to find ourselves without more pipelines for shipping more oil in the future. We wanted to have done some legwork to be able to move forward with this project if need be,” said Woodcock.

A potential timeline would be submitting an application with the Alberta Energy Regulator in the fourth quarter of 2019, clearing and grading of the land during the second quarter of 2020, approval of the application expected around the third quarter of 2020 and construction expected to begin around the fourth quarter of 2020. Cenovus expects an in-service date of the facility at the end of the fourth quarter 2020.

“Right now, we are simply exploring the option of a DRU and seeing how the community would feel about it,” said Woodcock.

She felt the reception from the community was mostly positive and would like to address any concerns from the community early on.

“Tonight’s presentation was excellent,” said Bruderheim deputy mayor Pat Lee. “Cenovus individuals who are in the know were more than willing to answer questions, explain the processes and just be really involved with THE community.”

The project is estimated to cost Cenovus $800M to $1 billion dollars over a three year period, if they decide to move forward. 

Woodcock noted much needs to be considered, including understanding the environmental impacts as well as community input.

It is not clear yet how many jobs the plant would bring to the area if the project gets the green light.


Written by: Jana Semeniuk

Twitter @jana_semeniuk


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