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Lethbridge Herald Newspaper Archives

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Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - March 21, 1973, Lethbridge, Alberta It, 1973 THt IETHMIM! HIMUD In conditioning drums, dot walcr and sleam are mixed with the tar iond> lo form a pulp in this first of extracting bitumen from the Athabaika oil pulp Is then pumped into jeparatlon cells. The bitumen rlw'i to the top In froth end is skimmed off while the to the bottom and Is pwnped to tailing It the system used at Great Canadian Oiil Sands Ud. SIMPSONS bears Up to 80 with this super concentrated detergent. UNCERTAIN FUTURE FIGHTING FOR A PROFIT SINCE 1967 FORT McJIURRAY, Alta. (C) The first commercial attempt to extract oil from northeastern Alberta's sticky Athabasca oil sands faces an uncertain future. Great Canadian Oil Sands Ltd. (GCOS) has been fighting for a profit ever since it went into production in the fall of 19G7 near the heart of the sands, 250 miles northeast of Edmonton. After losing million In Us first five years of opera- tion, GCOS finally struggled within sight of breaking even In it lost But President K. F. Heddon said the company's financial position "continues lo be criti- cal as 1973." "We have a 5300-million in- vestment on which we are not receiving a return. "Tiie urgent need remains for realistic Alberta royalty treatment and further in- creases in the price of syn- thetic crude." Synthetic crude now sells for a barrel, about 20 to 30 cents above thq price for Albsrta's conven- tional cntde oil. Breakdowns Most of Great Canadian's problems in trying to prove, after 50 years of trying by it and others, that the sands can be processed profitably have been mechanical, although a strike by some of the plant's R55 employees in 1969 didn't help. Equipment failures have pe- riodically closed the plant, a pioneering effort which is based on a new and s! ill-ex- perimental extraction process, and forced expensive modifi- cations. Reg Humphreys, vice-presi- dent and general manager, said the prospects oE a profit during !fl73 are trend is liic right Industry sources say syn- thetic crude is imdcrpriced considering the products it yields compared wilh conven- tional cruie. Synthetic crude, used as a refinery feedstock, is anything but crude. During processing from the raw bitumen, sul- phur and nitrogen are re- moved and only the more vol- atile products are produced In the refining process. Mr. Humphreys said (here are advantages where a feed stock free of s ul ph ur is needed, hut the value of the synthetic depends upon the use to which it is put. Concessions The Alberta and federal governments came to GCOS's assistance during the com- pany's darker days, The prov- ince halved royalties on pro- duction from the plant and Ot- tawa remitted million in sales taxes. The existing royalty rate, which expires March 31, is four per cent on the first barrels produced monthly plus 10 per cent on al 1 additional production. Over the last quarter of 1972 monlhly production averaged 1.69-million barrels. The cur- rent royalty rate is one half of normal royalties. The provincial government now is reviewing Its oil sands policy. Bill Dickie, minister of mines and minerals, said a thorough study is being made because .decisions taken now will have long-term applica- tions. Revision Mr. Humphreys said GCOS is recommending a royalty on bitumen production, rather than synthetic crude, because the synthetic is a product of refining. The bitumen which comes out of the sands is the raw resource, just as conven- tional crude from wells is the raw resource. The company has also ap- plied to the Alberta Energy Board to increase its daily production of synthetic to from barrels in order to ensure economic op- eration. Mr. Humphreys said the level would be close to the plant's effective capacity. Higher production would require considerable expansion. To achieve the Increase in production from the- dismal levels of the first years, sev- eral changes have been made in the operation and original estimates discarded. For example, ilie work force grew to from the expected 750. This pool of men has at- tracted seven attempts in the last years by the Oil, Chemical and Atomic Work- ers Union to organiize the plant. The company, complaining that these repeated attempts are disrupting the work force, has souKht relief. Alberta labor Minister Bert Hohol has indicated regulations may be changed to extend beyond the current 10 months the waiting period between union- ization attempts. The men now are repre- sented by an employees' as- sociation. Problems which beset the GCOS operation ranged from the stripping of overburden to allow mining of the sands to the disposal of tailings at the end of the extraction process. Troubles Teeth on the bucketwheel excavators, which dig up more than tons of sand a day, used to wear out on the abrasive sand in a few hours. Improvements in metallurgy and blasting the sand to loosen it have extended tooth life to more than 200 hours. boilers failed in early 1968 after giving much diffi- culty and the plant literally froze in the cold winter of 1967-68. These problems have since been eliminated. The conveyor system which carries the sands from, the mining face to the extraction plant has been replaced by heavier equipment. (Concluded on Page 44) 49 Only e 20-lbbox a 'Used as directed you'll getSO washioads. It's concentrated so you use less. With no phosphates, NTA or enzymes. Effective in both hard and soft water. Houiewnrel STORE HOURS: Open daily from o.m. to p.m.; Thurs. and Fri. a.m. Jo p.m. Centre Village Mall-Telephone 328-9231 TOP SIMPSONS bears Pants and Top The poslel puff a pretly soft pullover In orlon acrylic knit. Machine-washable. White, yellow, pink, or powder blue. CCS 8-14. Plaid bags shaped up In cot- ton and gone high and wide at Ihe snap closed waist; cuffecf at the finish. In ajstd. plaids. Machine washable. CCS 7-14. 4. PAMTS 6.99 Skirts and body shirts Skirts Bodyshirts 499 M skirts fn cotton canvas; seersuckeror'ahagfcarfc'- weave pfards and polyester Stretch knli body shirts. Assl'd checks, plains, patterns. !n acrylic, polyester w nylon. Machln wvashaWs. CSS J I Ci Sltndtrd Gfrli' Wear STORE HOURS: Open Daily a.m. 1o p.m., Thurs. and Fri. a.m. to p.m., Cenlre Village Mall, Telephone 328-9231 ;