Sturgeon Refinery Status Update

Formerly known as North West Upgrading’s Bitumen Refinery


June 2011

The past few years generated much interest in the North West Upgrader project planned for the Sturgeon County area of Alberta’s Industrial Heartland. The project’s new name, the North West Redwater Partnership – Sturgeon Refinery, reflects changes and progress made to date. The name represents the project partnership between North West Upgrading and Canadian Natural Resources Limited. The tag line “Sturgeon Refinery” highlights the project going beyond upgrading bitumen and producing consumer ready motor fuels and products similar to a refinery complex.
The Project
A $5 billion capital investment and three years of construction on the Sturgeon Refinery near Redwater, Alberta should have phase one operational. This first phase alone of the Sturgeon Refinery adds 20% to the $25 billion value of total capital investments to date in Alberta’s Industrial Heartland. The project is owned by the North West Redwater Partnership, a joint venture between North West Upgrading Inc. and Canadian Natural Resources Limited, with each company holding a 50% stake. The Partnership targets to build, manage and operate a 150,000 barrels per day bitumen refinery over three phases.
Finalizing, sanctioning, and constructing appear to be on the horizon for the Sturgeon Refinery. But a project of this magnitude requires thousands more hours of planning and preparation by the Partnership team. Signing the Bitumen Royalty in Kind agreement this past February with the Government of Alberta has resulted in accelerated engineering and design, targeting a sanction for the first phase in late 2011 or early 2012. Additionally, the Partnership continues building its owners team in order to effectively execute the project.
Site Activity
On-site activity at the future location of the refinery near Redwater is minimal. Basic site preparation and other limited activities will continue throughout the remainder of this year. Once the project is officially sanctioned, significant on-site work is expected to commence, likely in 2012 after the site is clear of snow and mud.
Employment and Contract Opportunities
As activity increases, so does the organization’s size. Staffing has reached 100 – a number that is expected to double by the end of 2011 with positions mainly in Calgary. New positions, both in Calgary and on site near Redwater, will be posted on the Partnership’s new website ( under the drop-down ‘Contact Us’ menu. Many of the workers ultimately required on the project site will be engaged through independent contractors; thus many of the employment opportunities will flow directly from those contractors. The website is updated with the issuance of major contracts, and individuals are encouraged to explore opportunities that may exist directly with these contractors. The ‘Contact Us’ drop-down menu also houses information for suppliers interested in registering with the Partnership’s Supply Chain Management team. Contractors and suppliers should note the Partnership is focused on those few large-scale, time or technology-critical suppliers first. Subsequent contracts will be decided upon as required, pending project sanction.
The Result
The Partnership is committed to creating opportunity by adding value to the province’s resources and ensuring the best possible return on investment. The project will be a catalyst for additional eco-industrial development and will help to position Alberta as a world leader of environmentally sustainable energy resources.
Additional information on project timelines, products, benefits, and more can be found by visiting


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