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CALGARY, Alberta - Imperial Oil Ltd. said Wednesday it will go ahead with an $8.9 billion Canadian (US$8.6 billion) expansion to its Kearl oil sands mine in Alberta.

The Calgary-based oil producer and refiner said the second phase of the project is slated to begin producing 110,000 barrels of oil per day by late 2015.

Construction on the first phase of Kearl, which will also have initial output of 110,000 barrels per day, is 80 percent complete and is expected to start up about a year from now.

Alberta has the world's third-largest oil reserves, more than 170 billion barrels. Daily production of 1.5 million barrels from the oil sands is expected to increase to 3.7 million in 2025. Only Saudi Arabia and Venezuela have more reserves.

In constructing its first phase of Kearl, Imperial has run into fierce opposition from residents, conservation groups and local governments for transporting enormous modules imported from South Korea through the U.S. to the mine site in Alberta.

Hundreds of loads of oil equipment are being hauled from ports in Idaho and Washington through northwestern Montana to the Kearl Oil Sands project in Alberta.

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Imperial owns 71 percent of Kearl, with its U.S. parent, Exxon Mobil Corp., controlling the rest.

 

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