Devine’s Upgraders, Part 6: Were the Lloydminster and Regina upgraders enormous money losers, or huge successes? The conclusion
For all the political strife over cost overruns of the two projects as they were built, and their initial struggles, the added provincial royalties in the 21st century made up for that in spades. And the further investment in northwest Saskatchewan’s heavy oil patch has far outstripped the money spent on the Bi-Provincial Upgrader, even when you adjust for inflation.
That, unequivocally, proves the investment in the upgraders was sound, and visionary. It just took a while to get there.
Devine’s Upgraders, Part 5: Were the Regina and Lloydminster upgraders worth it? The two upgraders’ massive impact on provincial revenue
“Any reasonable entrepreneur in North America, if they had these resources, they would have done the same thing. Now, you had to be very determined about it, because it wasn’t easy. And you had the cyclical (nature) to deal with, but a lot of good entrepreneurs and business people, they know cycles. I would say it certainly contributed significantly to Saskatchewan, and it’s not going to change.”
Asked if there was anything he would have done different with regards to the upgraders, Devine said, “I’m sure we didn’t do everything right. But it did work out in the end.
Devine’s Upgraders, Part 4: Regina NewGrade Upgrader, now part of FCL, has processed 16 million barrels of heavy oil per year for 30 years
Gil Le Dressay has spent 43 years with Federated Co-operatives Ltd’s Regina refinery, starting as a process utility operator and working up to vice president of refinery operations then vice president of manufacturing. He said,
“The upgrader helped pave the way for renewed growth and optimism at our facility, and within the larger CRS. This includes the addition of Section V and the growth of gasoline and diesel sales within the CRS.”
“Because of the upgrader, approximately, 40 per cent of our feedstock comes from Saskatchewan heavy oil.”
Lloydminster Mayor Gerald Aalbers said, “Without the upgrader, Lloydminster would likely be a community of under 15,000.”
The most recent 2021 census put the city’s population at just shy of 32,000, a marginal improvement from 2016.
After some pioneering work in using steam to produce heavy oil, trying several different extraction methods, Husky started building essentially cookie-cutter projects. Each involved a steam plant, and several well pads composed of well pairs using a technology called “steam assisted gravity drainage,” or SAGD. That might sound like a lot of technobabble until you realize the important points: Each of these thermal projects produces 10,000 barrels of oil per day, and cost $250 to $350 million a pop to build. And Husky built 11 of these projects in northwest Saskatchewan by 2020, prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and the corresponding crash in oil markets.
Grant Devine said, “We thought, well, probably we’ll only get one term. So we better go hard. So then we got another term. And so we just kept pushing it and pushing it and said, ‘Things will turn around.’ And as you pointed out, frankly, being tenacious enough to stick with it, they all turned around and both of these upgraders spit money out like crazy.”
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