The Strathcona refinery has been commercially operational since 1975. Image courtesy of Imperial Oil.
The Strathcona refinery is owned and operated by Imperial Oil. Image courtesy of Jason Woodhead.
A 41MW cogeneration facility was commissioned at the Strathcona refinery in October 2020. Image courtesy of Jason Woodhead.

Imperial Oil’s Strathcona refinery near Edmonton, Alberta is one of the biggest refineries in Western Canada.

Commercially operational since 1975, the Strathcona refinery was built by Imperial Oil to replace the older refineries in Edmonton, Regina, Winnipeg, and Calgary.

It is also known as the Esso Strathcona Refinery based on the Esso brand of Imperial Oil. It currently processes up to 200,000 barrels of oil per day (bopd) amounting to close to 30% of Western Canada’s total refining capacity.

With approximately 450 employees, the facility produces a range of products starting from bitumen like asphalt to gasoline, diesel, aviation fuels, motor oils, and liquid petroleum gases.

Imperial Oil commissioned a cogeneration unit at the site to serve the energy requirements exclusive to the refinery in October 2020.

Imperial expects an annual cost reduction of up to £3.3m ($4m) with improved production efficiency and reduced boiler maintenance.

The cogeneration plant is also expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 112,000 tonnes (t) per annum while meeting approximately 80% of the refinery’s total electricity needs.

Location and site details

The Strathcona refinery is located in a landlocked area in Strathcona County, east of Edmonton, the capital city of Alberta.

The site houses the main refinery area, the newly built cogeneration facility, and a number of tank farms owned and operated by Imperial.

Processing infrastructure

The Strathcona refinery is capable of processing different grades of crude oil. It has atmospheric and vacuum distillation units, catalytic reforming unit to remove the octane value of the naphtha fraction, a fluid catalytic cracker unit for converting high boiling gas oils into gasoline and diesel.

It also has a diesel hydrotreating unit for removing sulphur and nitrogen compounds from diesel, a hydrofluoric acid alkylation unit to convert propane and butane into gasoline components, apart from rainwater impounding basins and effluent treatment facilities.

A diluent recovery project was also implemented to remove diluent from diluted bitumen between 2015 and 2020.

Starthcona refinery cogeneration plant

The newly-built cogeneration plant at the refinery produces electricity as well as heat using gas as a primary fuel. The generator will be equipped with heat-recovery technology.

The refinery previously sourced its electricity needs from a 13.8kV substation and distribution system linked with Altalink’s Imperial Oil Edmonton 95S Substation.

The cogeneration plant is expected to cater to about 41MW out of a total of 53MW of electricity needs of the refinery. The power plant will also supply electricity to the Alberta Interconnected Electric System (AIES) in case of emergency requirements.

Contractors involved

Bantrel was awarded an engineering, procurement, construction, and management (EPCM) contract for the Strathcona refinery in 1991.

The company was subsequently involved to carry out a number of projects for improving safety, profitability, and reliability at the facility.

Bantrel was also contracted for FEED, EPC, and construction management services for the fluid catalytic cracking unit (FCCU), alkylation, hydro-processing, crude/vacuum, and naphtha reforming units of the facility in 2015.