Calgary, Alberta – Shell has started production from an expansion project in the Athabasca oil sands, increasing production by 100,000 barrels per day.

The project, the Scotford Upgrader Expansion, now has a capacity of 255,000 barrels per day of heavy oil from the oil sands. “This start-up is an important milestone for our heavy oil business and it adds new capacity from an important source of oil in a world requiring more secure energy,” said Marvin Odum, director of Shell Upstream Americas.

The announcement marks the first commercial production from the upgrader expansion. The facility processes oil sands bitumen from the Muskeg River Mine and Jackpine Mine for use in refined oil products.

With production capacity upgraded at the project, engineers will now focus on improving operating efficiencies and adding capacity through “debottlenecking.” Design and engineering work also continues on the proposed Quest carbon capture and storage project at the Scotford Upgrader. Quest could capture and store some one million tonnes of CO2 per year underground. Once all regulatory approvals are in place, a final decision to begin construction could come in 2012, the company said.

Shell Canada Energy is a 60 per cent owner and operator of the Athabasca Oil Sands Project, which includes the Muskeg River Mine, Jackpine Mine and Scotford Upgrader. Other partners are Chevron Canada Limited and Marathon Oil Corporation, each with 20 per cent.

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