Heavy Oil Upgraders

Canada's first heavy oil upgrader opened in Regina in 1988, and the second began production near Lloydminster four years later. Saskatchewan is the country's second largest oil producer after Alberta, accounting for about 20% of Canada's production. The province's oil fields have a full range of crude oil, from light sweet to heavy. Viscous crude oil is described as heavy oil and needs special equipment so that the petroleum can be refined for use as gasoline or diesel fuel for vehicles and other products including home heating oil. The Regina project involved loans and equity provided by the federal and provincial governments to build the NewGrade Energy upgrader adjacent to the Consumers' Co-operative Refinery Limited (CCRL). Announced in 1983 with a price tag of $600 million, the Regina upgrader finally opened in 1988 and produces about 55,000 barrels of synthetic oil per day. NewGrade, now a 50-50 joint venture between CCRL and the province of Saskatchewan, completed a $300 million expansion in 2003. The $1.2 billion Bi-Provincial Upgrader, which opened in 1992, produces about 70,000 barrels of oil a day from heavy oil; it is now a business unit of Husky Energy after shares of the commercial operation were sold by the Alberta, Saskatchewan, and federal governments.

Joe Ralko