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Doing more with less

The Sturgeon Refinery

Welcome to the refinery of the future: it’s green, it’s smart, and it’s getting ready to be switched on by early 2018.

When the groundbreaking Sturgeon bitumen refinery comes to life early next year, it will not only be the first refinery being built in Canada since 1984, it will also be the first to implement next generation green technology, designed to meet new standards for lower carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.

"Welcome to the refinery of the future: it’s green and it’s smart"
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"moving the oil and gas industry into the future"

The industrial heartland of Alberta is known for its rich natural resources, but the process of retrieving them has traditionally been hard on the environment. North West Redwater Partnership (NWRP) is building a sustainable new refinery which utilizes modern and innovative technology - this is the key to mitigating environmental damage. Each of the project’s three phases will capture 1.2 million tonnes of CO2 every year, resulting in a reduction of 3,500 tonnes of CO2 every single day.

NWRP chose Schneider Electric as their partner on this decade-long project because both companies and their employees share a firm commitment to sustainability and the environment. These factors which will only become more important as the industry moves into a more sustainable-minded future.

“NWRP is seeking to be the green flagship of Alberta. Schneider Electric wants to make energy safe, reliable, efficient, sustainable and connected,” says Eric Deschenes, Vice President of Energy Business at Schneider Electric. “When Schneider Electric and NWRP recognized that our values were aligned, we started to work together. We have now reached our goal: this is the greenest refinery to ever be built in North America, if not globally.”

The Sturgeon refinery has become a true working partnership for NWRP and Schneider Electric. This is unusual, as projects of this kind typically have a number of different contractors handling manufacturing, engineering, installation, procurement, construction, and project management. “NWRP was looking for a trusted technology partner - a partner that would be held accountable for a properly engineered plant dedicated to driving reliability, maintainability and interoperability,” says Alfred Jonathan, project director for Schneider Electric.

With the Sturgeon plant, NWRP sought to work with a partner who would meet their health and safety standards. NWRP also wanted a partner who could identify areas for cost saving, and work to deliver the project on time and within budget. “By being the main electrical contractor, Schneider Electric could drive consistency in equipment and design,” says Jonathan. “Over the lifecycle of the plant, this will lead to significant benefits due to improved operational efficiency and better energy utilization.”

NWRP is benefiting from this streamlined approach already today, with over 5000 engineering hours saved in the delivery of 16 electrical buildings and other equipment to the Alberta site. “We believe it is the people who make a project successful, and Schneider Electric has demonstrated that they can provide competent resources to execute on both the engineering and procurement for the project,” said Bob Wing, Project Director of NWRP.

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“Being the main electrical contractor we could drive consistency”
Two guys looking at plans
The Sturgeon refinery will achieve up to 30% energy savings

A green refinery is essential to NWRP – but so is profitability and cost efficiency. Schneider Electric supplied a smart Energy Monitoring Control System (EMCS), which ensures NWRP has complete transparency about its energy consumption. The aspiration is for the EMCS to reduce energy consumption at the Sturgeon plant by up to 30%. These efficiencies are achieved by monitoring and controlling all the equipment on the Sturgeon site, as well as ensuring power is reliably and efficiently distributed. There are several hundred thousand Internet-of-Things data collection points throughout the refinery, all bringing information back to the base. This means errors can be pinpointed quickly, and configurations can be changed in seconds. “In my opinion, it is one of the most technologically advanced systems within the oil and gas industry,” says Deschenes.

With safety being the top priority for both companies, choosing innovative technologies that are reliable, efficient, sustainable and connected has been paramount. A key technology deployed at the NWRP refinery is the SimSci simulation and training software. This simple, on-site technology replicates real life conditions as operators are trained to understand the workings of the refinery in a more efficient manner. Another vital technology at the refinery is the next generation Gas Insulated Switchgear (GIS), which has all its live parts sealed off from the elements. This makes it ideal for sites with poor access, or harsh environments where conditions can affect energy supply.

As the final work is now being done to complete the first phase of the NWRP refinery, Schneider Electric is pleased to be delivering on their scope for this extensive and innovative project on time and below budget. “NWRP has built this refinery with the intent that from the first minute they turn it on, they will be hitting a very high percentage of efficiency,” says Deschenes.

“Not only will NWRP reduce CO2 emissions, but they'll also reduced the impact of shipping over thousands of kilometers, reducing the risk of spillage,” adds Deschenes. “NWRP is a company that’s doing things differently, creating value and jobs locally while also reducing environmental impact. That's where the joint value between our companies sit, and we are proud to have been a part of it.”

Reduction in CO2 emissions