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2019 Conference Abstracts

2019 Conference Abstracts



Hidden Opportunities for Energy Saving:
Steam Traps – Optimize Energy Usage

Author: James Spinney
Organization: Gestra

As producers search for ways to cut costs and make operations leaner, many focus on increasing energy efficiency and incorporating cleaner energy options. This approach works because energy costs often represent a substantial portion of industrial expenses. An often unrealized and underutilized source for significant saving is the steam traps in steam distribution systems.

Steam distribution systems are found in many parts of a plant like utilities, primary / secondary extraction and up-grading. Leaking steam traps are a major source of energy and condensate losses. About 15 percent to 25 percent of traps are leaking at existing installations, representing opportunities to save hundreds of thousands of dollars on energy at a single site annually. Accordingly, optimizing steam traps offers considerable potential for improving steam usage and curbing energy costs.

Our presentation will start with a very brief introduction on the energy contained in steam. Then we will talk about what a steam trap is and what their role is in the steam distribution systems. We will look at the different trap technologies, how they function and what the relative impact on energy use is from one technology to another. As well we will look at other economic impacts of not having properly functioning traps in the steam distribution system.

The Alberta government has just recently launched their program Custom Energy Solutions. Custom Energy Solutions helps Alberta facilities improve productivity, save energy and save money by upgrading inefficient equipment and making other energy improvements. This assistance can take the form of supporting system audits that will identify areas where improvements can be made in energy conservation. This would include replacing inefficient or failed steam traps.


Lime (CaO) as Additive for Bitumen Extraction and Tailings Management Processes

Author: Baki Ozum
Organization: Apex Engineering inc.

In the Fort McMurray region of Alberta, bitumen is produced by surface mining followed by water-based extraction at the substantial rate of more than 1.3×106 barrels/day. All open pit oil sand plants use a version of the Clark Hot Water Extraction (CHWE) process, pioneered in the 1930s, which uses caustic (NaOH) as an extraction process aid. While NaOH helps bitumen recovery, it brings with it serious tailings and environmental issues, challenging the long-term viability of these operations.
We have found that CaO (lime) chemistry provides improved tailings and bitumen extraction processes, by increasing the pH and providing Ca2+ ions that react with the active species in oil sand ore-water slurry. CaO can be used in treating whole tailings, in making non-segregating tailings (NST), or in dewatering legacy fluid fine tailings (FFT), estimated at more than 109 m3, produced with caustic in extraction. A more significant benefit on the overall operation is realized by using CaO in bitumen extraction, upstream of adding it to these tailings processes.
Lime offers a needed disruptive paradigm for open pit oil sand operations. It improves bitumen recovery and the associated extraction process kinetics, thereby reducing capital and operating costs. It maintains beneficial long-term water chemistry avoiding the slow impairment of extraction brought on by increasing sodium concentration in water that accompanies continual use of caustic. It reduces FFT production. In doing these things, it reduces the environmental and long-term sustainability challenges facing operators. Recent experimental data will illustrate the benefits of using CaO in whole tailings and compare CaO and NaOH in extraction. Pilot scale testing and commercial implementation of CaO in extraction and tailings will be discussed.


Secondary Process Aids for Extraction Performance Enhancement:
a Major Technical Breakthrough in Bitumen Extraction

Author: Jun Long
Organization: Syncrude Canada

Water-based bitumen extraction processes with the use of caustic as the only process aid have been used for bitumen production from mined oil sands. Over the last 100 years, tremendous efforts have been made in searching for more effective and economic extraction process aids with little success. The core of the Secondary Process Aid (SPA) technology is to utilize the synergy between caustic and selected chemicals as SPA. The SPA technology enables the processing of low-grade high-fines ores at higher production rates and lower costs with bitumen recovery uplift up to 60% (absolute). It was successfully implemented at Syncrude in 2016 for full scale production. This technology significantly expands extraction operation window and profitability and at the same time reduces bitumen loss to tails. The SPA technology is expected to have a significant impact on Alberta’s oil sand industry. It is estimated to be able to provide an average bitumen recovery uplift of ~7% (absolute) on the basis of the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) required recovery and to recover an extra amount of ~2.45 billion barrels of bitumen from poor and average ores (grade <11%). It represents a major technical breakthrough in water-based bitumen extraction. The successful development and application of the SPA technology serves as a good example demonstrating Syncrude’s commitment: “to responsibly develop the oil sands resource”.


Use of Super Absorbent Polymers (SAP)
for Enhancing Plant Growth in Oil Sands Reclamation

Author: Colin Klein
Organization: SNF

Reclaiming land disturbed by Oil Sands operations is a high priority for the Oil Sands industry, therefore improving the rate at which land can be reclaimed would be highly beneficial. Super-absorbent polymer (SAP), also referred to as hydrogel, can be used to enhance the growth of plants. These polymers can absorb up to 400 times their weight in water (depending on water salinity), retaining moisture in the plant’s root zone and facilitating plant growth.
To investigate the effectiveness of SAP for use in Oil Sands reclamation, a test plot was constructed at SNF’s Edmonton facility. Three plant species, native to the Fort McMurruay area, were selected including White Spruce, Trembling Aspen and Green Alder. Sixty of each of these speices were planted with several different SAP applications to compare the effect of SAP quantity and application method against a control group. The height and root collar diameter of the plants were monitored over time to quantify plant growth. Preliminary results indicate that, overall, the application of SAP improved growth of plants as compared to the control group.


Experimental analysis on effect of non-condensable gases
on effective thermal conductivity of oil sands
at different temperature, pressure and gas saturation

Author: Shuvolaxmi Dutta
Organization: University Of Calgary

In the Steam-Assisted Gravity Drainage (SAGD) operations when steam is co-injected with non-condensable gases (NCG), to improve the recovery efficiency, the “effective thermal conductivity (ETC)” of oil sands is affected by the presence of NCG. Experimental data at SAGD conditions for thermal conductivity is still very limited. The objective of our study is to measure the thermal conductivity of oil sands containing varying saturations of NCG using an unsteady state needle probe method. The effect of NCG saturation on ETC of oil sands will be evaluated at different temperatures
and pressures. Starting from existing models on ETC, new correlations for ETC of oil sands as a function of gas saturation, temperature and pressure, will be developed. The complexity of this study thus lies in determining ETC of porous media containing three-phase saturations. The experimental correlations developed from this study can be used for accurately simulating SAGD process involving NCG co-injection.


Power Generation Sample Conditioning: Monitoring Steam/Water Chemistry

Author: Israel Gamboa
Organization: Sentry

The objective of this presentation is to provide an overview of how to protect power generation assets and optimize operations by identifying and predicting corrosion/erosion failures thorough a properly designed and integrated steam and water sampling system. Monitoring steam/water chemistry is pivotal in cogeneration plants and steam plants in the oil sands. A proven sample conditioning system is one that transports and conditions a sample without altering the characteristics of interest.

Tailings Recovery System (TRS)

Author: Ferdinando Rizzuto
Organization: Technika

The objective of this presentation is to provide an overview of the Tailings Recovery System (TRS) technology that has been developed by Technika Engineering Ltd., specifically for recovering mature fine tailings (MFT) from oil sands tailings ponds. It is designed to enable effective and economical year-round MFT recovery operation. The technology can also be applied in other fluid mine tailings reclaim applications in mineral processing industries worldwide. The TRS technology as shown in this presentation has been implemented and successfully placed into operation at major oil sands facilities in northern Alberta.

Mature Fine Tailings (MFT) is formed within oil sands tailings ponds as a result of oil sands tailings consolidation processes. MFT is non-settling mixture of water and fines (solids smaller than nominally 44 μm). Various other constituents are also found in MFT deposits. MFT is non-Newtonian fluid primarily characterized by its density, shear strength and viscosity. All of these properties increase with depth. MFT properties also vary from site to site, and change over time. MFT rheology is typically described by the Bingham Plastics model. Muskeg and various other organic debris, as well as bitumen mats are commonly found in MFT deposits. Recovering MFT from oil sands tailings ponds is necessary to meet environmental regulations and to manage storage of fluid tailings within an operating site.

This presentation provides an overview of installation and operation of the initial set of TRS units at site. It also will promote discussion on designated disposal area in pit flocculation concepts, dramatic reduction of costs, improved safety and reliability.

Tailings Management – Operators Perspective

    Dragan Pejic, Government Of Alberta
    Roger Ashfield, Suncor
    Jun Long, Syncrude
    Charl Breytenbach, Suncor