As detailed engineering progresses, Canada's Imperial Oil is evaluating plant contractor bids following its decision to rekindle plans to construct a $2-billion expansion to its Cold Lake facility operation in northeastern Alberta's oil-sands region. The revised plan includes a 170-MW cogeneration facility and a bitumen-processing plant to go on line by the end of 2014.

The Nabiye development was originally proposed in 2001 and given regulatory approval in 2004, but Imperial shelved the work to focus on other Cold Lake projects. Engineering restarted in 2008, and Imperial received amended approval in 2010.

The overall plan calls for a new steam-generation and bitumen-processing plant that can produce more than 40,000 barrels a day, field production pads and associated facilities. The improvements made to the original 2004 plan were all "designed to enhance environmental performance," says Pius Rolheiser, Imperial spokesman.

Those improvements include a 40% reduction in the number of well pads to minimize the surface footprint as well as installation of a sulfur dioxide-removal facility and a cogeneration facility to increase energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. Excess electricity will be used at the Cold Lake facility or exported to a nearby substation.

The company recently completed construction of the main access road and the clearing and rough-grading of the 1-sq-kilometer plant site, which is located in a 40-sq-km plat northeast of Imperial's existing major operating facilities.

Rolheiser says crews are clearing and grading for the production pad, and construction of the facility should begin by midyear.

While some contracts are in place, others are pending, Rolheiser says. Imperial does not discuss specific contracts for competitive reasons, he says.