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Shell’s Upgrading Operations

In 2003, Shell opened the Scotford Upgrader to process bitumen from Shell Albian Sands. Located northeast of Edmonton near Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta, the Upgrader was designed with heat integration and energy efficiency in mind. It is integrated with Shell Canada's Scotford Refinery making it one of the most energy efficient facilities of its kind. Based on external benchmarking, Scotford Upgrader is nearly two times as energy efficient as the average conventional refinery. 

Scotford is also home to Shell’s flagship carbon capture and storage project, Quest. <hyperlink>

Safety & Emergency Preparedness

Shell considers safety of people and environment is paramount in our operations. Each day our focus on achieving Goal Zero reflects our belief that no objective is more important than ensuring we work safely without incident.

Shell is a member of Northeast Region Community Awareness & Emergency Response (NRCAER). The NRCAER 24-Hour Update line is 1-866-653-9959.

Scotford 24-hour security line: (780) 992-3600

People & Community

Shell Scotford in total employs about 1,300 people. This includes roughly 800 employees who work full time at the Scotford Upgrader and about 500 who work at the adjacent Scotford Refinery. Additionally, contractors provide support for both routine operations and major maintenance activities. The number of contractors on site at any given time varies according to the type of work underway.

Shell has operated in Strathcona County for more than 30 years and is recognized as one of the area’s largest employers and a valued neighbour to the local communities. Shell creates regular opportunities – both formal and informal – for community members to learn more about our operations, ask questions and share any concerns they may have.

Shell also contributes to the general well being of the communities near our operations through community investment as well as volunteerism. In 2014, Scotford employees volunteered nearly 10,000 hours with non-profit organizations in the local community through both our ‘Community Crew’ initiatives and ‘Community Service Fund’ Program. The Community Service Fund, which donates money to organizations where our employees volunteer, granted $136,000 in 2014.

Since 2003, Shell Scotford has given almost $4.5M supporting local community priorities, including $750,000 for the purchase of an MRI unit for the Fort Saskatchewan Community Hospital, $300,000 for the Strathcona County Book Mobile project and $400,000 for the Telus World of Science educational programs.

Products and supply

A significant portion of Shell’s share of the synthetic crude produced at the Scotford Upgrader is sold to the adjacent Scotford Refinery and Shell's Sarnia Refinery in Ontario, where it is further processed into fuel products like gasoline. The remainder is sold to the general marketplace.

The Scotford Upgrader is designed to process 255,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day of diluted bitumen from Shell’s Muskeg River Mine and Jackpine Mine.

Upgrading Technology

The upgrading process used at the Scotford Upgrader is called hydrogen-addition or hydro-conversion. This process adds hydrogen to the bitumen, breaking up the large hydrocarbon molecules to create synthetic crude oil.  Adding hydrogen rather than removing “coke” (through a process called coking) means there is no carbon byproduct to dispose of, and also yields a slight volume gain.

Synthetic crude oil enables refiners to produce clean, high-quality refined products, such as gasoline and diesel fuel, with low levels of aromatics, particulates and sulphur.