The OPTI Canada Inc. (OPTI) / Nexen Inc. (Nexen) Long Lake integrated bitumen recovery and upgrading project is a unique solution to the three key problems associated with the development of thermally produced extra heavy oil resources: the low value of the produced oil, the high fuel cost associated with thermal production, and the need for diluents to transport the produced oil to markets. The Long Lake Project will produce a premium light sweet synthetic crude from steam assisted gravity drainage (SAGD) produced Athabasca bitumen, utilizing upgrader bottoms as the primary source for upgrader hydrogen and SAGD fuel.

The core of the Long Lake integrated upgrader is the patented OrCrude™ upgrading process that uses distillation, solvent deasphalting, and thermal cracking in a unique combination to partially upgrade bitumen into OrCrude product and produce an asphaltene by-product.

At the Long Lake Project the OrCrude process will be integrated with commercially proven technologies to hydrocrack the partially upgraded OrCrude product to premium synthetic crude. In addition, the asphaltenes will be fed to an asphaltene gasification system to produce hydrogen for the hydrocracker and syngas fuel for the SAGD process.

The result is an integrated project that will produce premium synthetic crude with quality characteristics that are superior to other synthetics, at an operating cost that is less than any other Canadian production and upgrading project. The capital cost for the integrated Long Lake Project is forecasted to be comparable to other integrated Athabasca bitumen and upgrading projects.

The OrCrude process has been demonstrated at a 500 bpsd commercial demonstration facility near Cold Lake, Alberta which has been operating since mid-2001 on Cold Lake and Athabasca bitumens. The Long Lake Project, currently in the regulatory review process, is proposed to have an initial size of 70,000 bpsd of SAGD production and 70,000 bpsd of upgrading. OPTI and Nexen have plans to subsequently expand the upgrader to 140,000 bpsd. Construction is planned to commence in late 2003 with production in 2006.

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