The Sturgeon Refinery was conceived with environmental sustainability at the forefront. The refinery was designed to exceed today’s environmental requirements by setting the high standards that the future demands. Through deliberate choices in facility design and operations, the refinery has increased efficiency to preserve the quality of our air, water, and land.
The Sturgeon Refinery is the world’s only refinery designed from inception to minimize its environmental footprint through carbon capture. A process called gasification converts the heavy bottoms—a substantial waste product of bitumen—into both the hydrogen required for refinery operations and a pure, dry CO2 stream. It is cost-effectively captured instead of vented into the atmosphere, eliminating approximately 70% of the refinery’s total CO2 footprint. This captured CO2 is then sold to third parties for enhanced oil recovery and permanent storage, providing a pathway to lower carbon fuel from Alberta’s bitumen.
The refinery is located in a 4,500 square kilometre airshed monitored by Fort Air Partnership, a non-profit organization that collects and reports air quality data in the region. As one of the newest industrial facilities in the hub of Alberta’s Industrial Heartland, it was incumbent upon the refinery to use the best available technology and practices to preserve air quality that includes measures to address all sources of air emissions.
Water management is based on water reuse to limit freshwater intake from the North Saskatchewan River and minimize treated water discharge. The site is intentionally designed to retain stormwater and recycle it for use as plant process water. Maximizing air cooling coupled with advanced water treatment technology including ultrafiltration and membrane bioreactors, the total amount of freshwater withdrawn from the river is minimized to the extent possible while maintaining efficient operations of the water treatment system. The small stream of water from the site wastewater treatment facility is sent to the Alberta Capital Region Wastewater Commission for further treatment before being released to the North Saskatchewan River.
The Sturgeon Refinery site was strategically selected on land zoned for heavy industrial facilities within Alberta’s Industrial Heartland to both minimize land disturbance and maximize industry integration. The site allows access to existing infrastructure, including highways, rail, power transmission lines, utility gas, potable water, and wastewater service lines. This minimizes the need for added infrastructure, maximizes integration and provides efficiency benefits superior to a stand-alone site. The Sturgeon Refinery’s focus on minimal land disturbance resulted in maintaining a designated wildlife corridor and a wetland compensation plan that restored and preserved three times the area of wetlands lost to development on Sturgeon Refinery land.
A system of waste collection and recycling was implemented at the beginning of facility construction and remains in place currently. Items such as scrap metal and beverage containers are returned for a refund, and all funds are reinvested back into the community. Materials such as paper, plastic, wood, organics, and concrete are recycled or recovered to minimize the waste sent to landfills.
HIGHLIGHT: Approximately 95% of all waste generated at the Sturgeon Refinery site is recycled and diverted from landfills, with the exception of Domestic Waste.