The co-owners of the Stuart Oil Shale Project, Southern Pacific Petroleum N.L. and Central Pacific Minerals N.L. (SPP/CPM) and Suncor Energy announced completion of construction of the stage-one demonstration plant in April. The plant has now been handed over from the contract engineers, Bechtel, to the project operator, Suncor Energy, and is on schedule to achieve reliable production in the fourth quarter of 1999.

Completion of construction was on schedule--20 months after commencement--and on budget within a total cost of $250 million. "Passing this milestone in the project schedule paves the way for reliable oil production in the fourth quarter of this year. We are pleased with such a positive start to a major new industry in Australia," I. McFarlane of SPP/CPM said.

The Stage I plant comprises a 4,500-barrel per day demonstration plant built by Bechtel Inc. and uses new kiln technology for extracting oil from oil shale. The feed has a handling advantage over other shale deposits because it is silica-based. The more typical carbonate-based deposits, such as those in Colorado and Utah, produce a difficult-to-handle, fine powder-like waste. This technology was selected for having both favorable economic and environmental benefit.

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