Fort Hills is located in Alberta’s Athabasca region, 90 kilometres north of Fort McMurray. Fort Hills is an open-pit truck and shovel mine. Operations at Fort Hills are substantially similar to those of our Oil Sands Base mining and extraction assets; however, Fort Hills uses a paraffinic froth treatment process to produce a marketable bitumen product that is partially decarbonized, resulting in a higher-quality bitumen requiring less diluent and eliminating the need for on-site upgrading facilities. The resulting emissions intensity is similar to the typical barrel refined in North America, on a full life-cycle basis.
Suncor holds a 68.76% working interest in Fort Hills and is the operator of the asset.
Fort Hills began producing paraffinic froth-treated bitumen from secondary extraction in early 2018 and has a nameplate capacity of 194,000 barrels per day (gross) of bitumen (105,000 barrels per day, net to Suncor).
Its life expectancy is approximately 50 years based on current mine plans.
In primary extraction, the conditioned oil sands slurry is fed to two trains of separation cells. The separation cells remove the bitumen from the sand, which yields a froth mixture of bitumen, water and clay.
Froth is then sent for further treatment in secondary extraction where it is mixed with solvent and sent through two stages of counter-current settlers to remove asphaltenes and excess sand and water. The bitumen is then sent to a solvent recovery unit to remove the solvent and prepare the bitumen for shipping. The final product is marketable bitumen.
The heavy asphaltenes, sand and remaining water from the settlers travel through a tailings solvent recovery unit (TSRU) to remove any remaining solvent and prepare the tailings for disposal in the out-of-pit-tailings area (OPTA).
Hot bitumen pipeline (via Northern Courier Pipeline) carries Paraffinic Froth treatment product to East Tank Farm for blending and shipment to market.
Fort Hills is jointly owned through the Fort Hills Energy LP, which consists of limited partners – or co-owners.