Suncor will spend more than $20 billion to grow.
Michael Goodman / ENR
Suncor will spend more than $20 billion to grow.

Despite a chronic shortage of available construction workers in Alberta’s oilsands region and growing concerns about controlling Canada’s soaring greenhouse-gas emissions, leading producers are rushing forward with big expansion plans. For several, the goal is to boost daily production capacity to a level of 500,000 barrels.

Suncor Energy Inc. had the most recent expansion announcement and now is expecting to boost crude-oil production by 200,000 bbl per day, moving toward the company’s goal of producing 550,000 bbl per day in 2012. The phased-in expansion plans include constructing four additional stages of in-situ bitumen production, a new up grader to convert bitumen into higher-value crude oil, and various infrastructure and utilities. The up grader would be the company’s third. Suncor is using steam-assisted gravity drainage (SAGD) for production. All plans are pending full regulatory approvals.

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  • Expansion plans to increase production at two area mines also are moving ahead after Shell Canada Ltd. recently applied to provincial agencies in Alberta for approval.

    The plans would see a combined bitumen processing increase of 300,000 bbl per day at the Jackpine Mine, northeast of Fort McMurray, and at the Pierre River Mine, west of the Athabasca River.

    The Shell Canada applications call for a 100,000-bbl-per day increase at Jackpine and double that for Pierre River. The company has called this a significant milestone toward achieving its long-term growth plan of more than 500,000 barrels a day.