The chief executive officer of ExxonMobil said Wednesday that, in spite of Idaho conservationists' successful efforts to hinder his company's plans to haul mega-loads of oil equipments across U.S. Highway 12, the first phase of his Kearl Oil Sands Project in Alberta, Canada, is nearing completion and all of his giant loads of equipment have finally made their way from South Korea to Canada.
In early 2010, BW first began telling you about ExxonMobil's plans to move mega-loads across the Pacific Ocean, up the Columbia River, through the Port of Lewiston and slowly across Idaho highways hugging the Clearwater and Lochsa rivers. A group of citizens and activists began pushing back, taking big oil and the Idaho Department of Transportation through a series of legal tussles in front of District Courts, the Idaho Supreme Court and lengthy DOT hearings.
Eventually, ExxonMobil gave up its initial plans and began breaking down the giant rigs into scaled-down versions of mega-loads so that they could take an alternate route, along Highway 95 through Lewiston, Moscow and Coeur d'Alene before heading east and north to the Kearl Oil Sands Project.
ExxomMobil CEO Bruce March told the TD Securities Energy Conference on Wednesday that his $10.9-billion mine is now 92 percent complete and on track to start up later this year.
For the next $8.9-billion phase of Kearl, which is set to start up in 2015, March said ExxonMobil has set aside space at fabrication yards in Edmonton, Alberta, to construct the modules.
Longer term, ExxonMobil is eyeing a property just south of Kearl called Aspen for a possible new project that will use high-pressure steam pumped deep underground, instead of open-pit mining, to extract the bitumen.