Syncrude preparing plan to protect the environment

Additional repairs needed to 8-1 CO Boiler

(Fort McMurray, Alberta) Syncrude Canada Ltd. is currently preparing a comprehensive plan and implementation schedule to alleviate the potential for an unplanned release of emissions due to future emergency repairs to its 8-1 CO (carbon monoxide) Boiler. The information will be submitted to Alberta Environment on October 1 in compliance with an Environmental Protection Order issued September 28.

During July, both of the company’s CO Boilers had to be shut down for emergency repairs. Detailed analysis following these events showed additional work will be necessary to allow the 8-1 CO Boiler to operate reliably until a complete refurbishment at its next scheduled maintenance turnaround. Syncrude’s experience and industry benchmarking indicates that it will take around 18 months to evaluate options, engineer, procure and fabricate a quality refurbishment project. It is expected that the 8-2 CO Boiler will be able to operate reliably until its scheduled second quarter 2005 turnaround.

Alberta Environment issued the Environmental Protection Order September 28 to allow Syncrude to do a planned outage to conduct repairs to the Boiler to prevent a possible emergency situation in future. The Order calls on the company to submit a plan for the repairs that minimizes potential adverse effects to the environment.

As the repairs are being done, Alberta Environment officials will be in the area with its Mobile Air Monitoring Lab to monitor air quality. Syncrude will also be conducting air quality monitoring throughout the shut down.

Syncrude agrees with Alberta Environment that the CO Boiler must be returned to reliable operation in a planned way as soon as possible, rather than continuing to operate to alleviate the chance of having to undertake further emergency repairs.

Jim carter, syncrude president & coo

“Our planning indicates that some short-term repairs to CO Boiler 8-1 now will bring it back to its design reliability and allow it to meet Alberta Boiler Safety Association requirements. Syncrude will notify key regional stakeholders as soon as officials from Alberta Environment have reviewed and approved the work plan and implementation schedule.”

Syncrude will be adding to its regular complement of specialist welders and power engineers to make sure that the shutdown, repairs and start up activities proceed as safely and efficiently as possible. “At this stage it seems that the earliest time at which we could undertake the necessary repairs will be over the Thanksgiving weekend. This period also offers the advantage of having a minimum number of people working onsite,” said Mr. Carter.

“I would like to reiterate some of the information Syncrude shared during the July use of the diverter stacks,” he added. “Extensive on-site and off-site testing during both periods showed that local and fixed occupational sampling results were well below allowable occupational exposure levels as set by Alberta Health & Safety for all Alberta industry. Additionally, there were no off-site exceedances of Alberta Ambient Air Quality Guidelines at any of the 13 Wood Buffalo Environmental Association air quality monitoring stations in the region.”

To provide additional reassurance about the low risk to health, safety and the environment, Syncrude has commissioned an independent world-class expert in this field to repeat the dispersion studies that have been done several times during the design, construction and operation of our plant. They will study the July incidents and do dispersion modeling for the planned October outage to identify if there are any additional mitigation measures or operating practice changes needed to further minimize the potential impact of future uses of the diverter stacks.


CO Boiler
At Syncrude, the CO Boilers are used to recover energy and reduce the emission of potential pollutants by incinerating gases, mainly carbon monoxide (CO), mixed with coke (carbon) particles from the Cokers. This is done by burning a mix of fuel and air, and the heat generated is used to turn boiler feedwater into steam. CO Boiler exhaust gases are then passed through Electrostatic Precipitators to remove any coke particles before being released to atmosphere via the 600? tall Main Stack.

Diverter Stack
Our plant was designed to have two Diverter Stacks to allow mid-run emergency repair to each of the CO Boilers. The 240? tall Diverter Stacks were carefully designed to minimize worker and community exposure to emissions. The use of a Diverter Stack is stringently controlled by the Syncrude Utilities Department and every time it is used we follow strict reporting guidelines about our activities to Alberta Environment.

Environment, Health & Safety Precautions:
There are detailed Standing Orders that were followed by Upgrading personnel during CO Boiler repairs necessitating the use of the diverter stack to minimize any potential environmental or health impacts due to emissions. These included reducing the feedrate to the associated Coker, and rerouting gases and residues from other plants to the on-line CO Boiler wherever possible.

During any diverting incident, all necessary precautions are put in place to ensure that at no time do emissions pose any health risk to our employees, contractors or the local community. The air quality is continually monitored, both on and off-site, as is usual practice. In addition to the fixed monitoring units in Upgrading, Utilities and on the UE-1 construction site, we introduce special localized monitoring by Industrial Hygiene personnel along planned routes and in response to individual requests.

The Syncrude Project is a joint venture operated by Syncrude Canada Ltd. and owned by Canadian Oil Sands Limited, ConocoPhillips Oilsands Partnership II, Imperial Oil Resources, Mocal Energy Limited, Murphy Oil Company Ltd., Nexen Inc., and Petro-Canada Oil and Gas.

Trading Symbols for Public Syncrude Joint Venture Owners

Canadian Oil Sands Trust
(via Canadian Oil Sands Limited and Canadian Oil Sands Limited Partnership)
ConocoPhillips Oilsands Partnership II
(wholly owned by ConocoPhillips)
Imperial Oil ResourcesIMO-TSX
Murphy Oil Company Ltd.MUR-NYSE

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