Athabasca Tar Sands Refineries



Asbestos Insulation Applications

The Athabasca oil sands (also called the Athabasca tar sands or Alberta tar sands) are large deposits of bitumen or extremely heavy crude oil, located in northeastern Alberta, Canada – roughly centred on the boomtown of Fort McMurray. Commercial production of oil from the Athabasca oil sands began in 1967, with the opening of the Great Canadian Oil Sands (GCOS) plant in Fort McMurray. It was the first operational oil sands project in the world, owned and operated by the American parent company, Sun Oil Company. When the $US240 million dollar plant officially opened with a capacity of 45,000 bpd, it marked the beginning of commercial development of the Athabasca oil sands. The Great Canadian Oil Sands Limited (then a subsidiary of Sun Oil Company but now incorporated into an independent company known as Suncor Energy Inc.) produced 30,000 barrels per day (4,800 m3/d) of synthetic crude oil.


Syncrude was formed as a research consortium in 1964. Construction at the Syncrude site began in 1973, and it officially opened in 1978. Starting in 1996, Syncrude has been expanding its operations. Between 1996 and 1999, the original mine was expanded and the plant was “debottlenecked”, increasing production from 73.5 million barrels (11,690,000 m3) per year in 1996 to 81.4 million in 1999.