Canadian National Railway Co. said it plans to build a pilot plant worth up to $ 50 million next year to make oil and asphalt pucks to be transported by train and ship to customers around the world.
CN has worked for years on a technology that mixes and coats heavy sticky oil with polymer plastic, creating a pellet-shaped product called CanaPux that can be sent in an open rail car and will float if it spills into water.
James Cairns, vice president of petroleum and chemicals at CN, said the railroad is in discussions with the federal and Alberta governments, along with potential oiland industrial partners and Heart Lake First Nation of northern Alberta, to fund 10,000 barrels per pilot plant a day.
He said he hoped the pilot project costs would be divided into three between CN, government and industry.
If the pilot is successful, CN will build a commercial-sized factory with a capacity to convert up to 50,000 barrels per day of heavy crude oil.
Cairns said the company had signed a memorandum of understanding with an unnamed Asian customer who was interested in importing pucks into his country and separating oil and polymers for processing and sale.