While 2016 was a challenging year for many in the oil industry with continuing low crude oil prices resulting in job cutbacks for some companies and reduced travel budgets for many, the Crude Oil Quality Association (COQA) had a strong year, hosting three significant meetings. Whereas 2014 and 2015 were dominated by issues related to the quality of the light tight oils, and in particular movement of these materials by rail, 2016 saw increasing focus on the quality of WTI - concerns over asphaltene precipitation, a renewed interest in developing specifications for WTI and a need for more transparent communication of WTI quality. The COQA is enriched by the contributions of each and every speaker, committee chair and committee participant. Thank you all for making the COQA a success.
The March meeting was held at the historic Menger Hotel in San Antonio with over 130 in attendance. Dr. Bagawandoss provided an update on 49 CFR 173.41 regarding regulations pertaining to the transportation of crude by rail as well as truck and barge, Ashok Anand updated the group on Enbridge’s data on WTI quality at Cushing, and Dr. Irv Wiehe shared an overview of crude oil compatibility advancing the discussions on the COQA project on this topic.
The June meeting in Edmonton was our 5th joint international meeting with the Canadian Crude Quality Technical Association (CCQTA). The activities included about 40 participants taking advantage of a tour of three of the area’s top industry related facilities – the Leduc #1 Energy Discovery Center, Kinder Morgan’s new rail facility, and Suncor’s Edmonton refinery. Two full days of technical presentations were highlighted by topics such as “The Outlook for Canadian Oil Sands” and “Can Canadian Heavy Barrels Compete in the Gulf?”; to midstream issues regarding transportation of hazardous goods and compliance with the new DOT regulations; to a nice overview talk by Dr. Eric Vetters on “Factors to Consider when Developing a Crude Quality Program”. In consideration of the wildfires in Ft. MacMurray, a gift was made to the Red Cross and their support efforts.
For the Fall meeting in Houston, for the first time , the COQA and Hydrocarbon Publishing’s Opportunity Crudes conference collaborated on their meetings to provide a rich and relevant time. The WTI specifications subcommittee, led by Aaron Dillard, was of great interest to many and is currently establishing a quality monitoring program. After a very busy period the past few years, the Crude by Rail subcommittee has concluded their efforts. Some work is still in progress, most notably the crude flammability/ignitability studies led by Dr. David Lord of Sandia National Laboratories. We will look forward to updates on this work in 2017.
Organizationally, 2016 was a successful year. As a not-for-profit organization, we are in a sound financial position and added six new corporate members including L-K Industries, Silverpeak Strategic Partners, Cenovus, Dorf Ketal, GE Water & Process Technologies, and Infineum. In their annual Trends publication, Infineum featured the COQA in an interview with Executive Director, Dennis Sutton.
Two books, published in 2016 that may be of particular interest include:
- Rusty Braziel’s “The Domino Effect”, describing the cascading events that have profoundly transformed energy markets, and
- Harry Giles’ special ASTM issue on “Crude Oil Analysis: History and Development of Test Methods From 1854 to 2016.
In 2017 the COQA will continue to provide an informative opportunity for discussion, information sharing and action on current and relevant crude oil quality issues. Thank you for your past participation as we look forward to an enlightened 2017.