Suncor says oil plant technology ?not mature

By ALLAN McNEILallanm@gladstoneobserver.com.au

SUNCOR, which previously owned Gladstone's Stuart Shale Oil Plant, has admitted the reason it pulled out of the venture was that the technology was not commercially viable.

The statement supported the move from the plant's current owner Queensland Energy Resources (QER) which recently shut down stage one of the plant and withdrew plans for the second commercially viable stage.

At the time of its withdrawal in 2001, Suncor stated the reason was because it was focusing its efforts on its core business in Canada.

"While we think the project has potential for the future, we had to make a choice among competing growth priorities,'' said Rick George, Suncor president and chief executive officer. "For Suncor, it makes sense to focus our people and resources on growing our core businesses in Canada.''

However in a recent article in Canada's The Globe, Suncor's vice-president of investor relations John Rogers admitted that was not the case.

"The technology we used was not mature enough to be applied in a commercial application,'' Mr Rogers said.

Mr Rogers went on to say that the technology was the same as that recently used at the plant.

"It was promising in a test environment but not beyond that,'' he said.

"Not much has changed in terms of new breakthroughs since Suncor folded its tent three years ago.''

Current owner, QER, shut down the Stuart Shale Oil Plant stage one operation in July last year, stating the reason was so it could refocus its efforts on plans for a stage two commercial facility.

When QER recently withdrew its environmental impact statement (EIS) for stage two of the plant, it claimed the project was still being investigated and a new EIS would be put together.



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