Joint Canadian Crude Quality Technical Association/Crude Oil Quality Association Meeting
New Orleans, LA, 10 – 11 February 2010
The Association gratefully acknowledges the following companies for providing financial support for this meeting: Baker Hughes, Canadian Crude Quality Technical Association, Choice Analytical, Inc., Lazar Scientific, Inc., Saint-Gobain NorPro, Shell Pipeline, and Spiral Software. In addition, Intertek co-hosted an evening reception for all meeting attendees. Their generosity is greatly appreciated.
This was the second joint meeting of the Crude Oil Quality Association (COQA) and its sister organization the Canadian Crude Quality Technical Association (CCQTA). Due to its success, it is planned to have joint meetings every other year, alternating between the United States and Canada. The next joint meeting is planned for June 2012, in Alberta, Canada at a location to be determined.
The following minutes were prepared by Andre Lemieux, Secretary, CCQTA, and Harry Giles, Director, COQA. Links are provided (document) for copies, in PDF format, of all of the presentations made during the two days.
10 February 2010. Canadian Crude Quality Technical Association.
Gerald Bruce as the Vice President of the CCQTA provided an overview of the association’s history, goals, structure, and operating guidelines. The CCQTA is primarily set up to facilitate the establishment and operation of projects. Opportunities do exist for CCQTA members to join projects for a six month trial period. Projects are operated under the supervision of a project manager and quarterly meetings are held to review project work and agree on future activities. Minutes are provided for every project meeting.
Condensate Quality Project
► Mr. Bruce’s presentation
Bob Falkiner of Imperial Oil provided some history and scope for this project. Issues such as; the presence of contaminants in NGL fractionator plant feed bottoms, the presence of iron based contaminants in diluent, and high levels of suspended solids reported in the CRW testing, were precursors to the establishment of the project. The project will focus on understanding sources of contamination in condensate and the development of adequate test methods for the measurement of contaminants.
On the short term, the project will focus on assessing the test methodology proposed by the Enbridge CRW Committee for the measurement of total suspended solids. On the long term, the project group will develop test methods, to ensure that the most appropriate filtration methodology is being used to capture key components within condensate feeder streams.
Other proposed CRW specifications like aromaticity, benzene content, and compatibility may also get reviewed by the project group.
Oilsands Bitumen Processability Project
► Mr. Falkiner’s presentation
Eric shared some of the results from the project which suggests that on average, the contaminant levels in commercial bitumens are equal to or less than those measured in more traditional western Canadian heavy oils. Based on project results, no special processing issues or challenges are anticipated with commercial oil sands bitumens.
Some preliminary emulsification testing was also carried out by two commercial additives suppliers, and their results did not highlight any potential processing issues with the tested samples..
Contaminant Online Monitoring Project Proposal
► Mr. Vetter’s presentation
Tim Blackmore of Omnicon Consultants Inc. provided an overview of the project goals and a summary of preliminary work to date.
The objective of this project is to test the effectiveness of existing equipment as an on line monitoring tool for measuring contaminants in refinery feed.
At this point in time, three technologies [NMR, ESR, LIBS] are getting most of the attention. There is preliminary data to suggest that LIBS can be employed for measuring certain metals in a hydrocarbon based matrix.
Although the project group has yet to be established, two refinery sites and two technology suppliers have expressed interest in assessing the capabilities of existing technologies.
TAN Phase IV Project
► Mr. Blackmore’s presentation
Randy Segato of Suncor provided some historical information on the CCQTA TAN project, and an overview of the direction of the Phase IV.
During Phase I specific efforts were undertaken to improve the capabilities of existing test methods for measuring TAN. Modifications to ASTM D664 664 were provide to address reproducibility problems and these are being reviewed by ASTM.
During phase II, a number of gas oil samples obtained from commercial Canadian heavy oils, oil sands bitumens, and foreign high TAN crudes were tested for naphthenic acid corrosion. This work was completed at a reputable commercial facility and since the results were not deemed adequate for the purposes of the project group, modifications to the testing apparatus were requested and subsequently designed developed by the project group. Phase III work was then conducted under vacuum conditions in order to minimize the effects of sulfur passivation in facilitate the measurement of naphthenic acid corrosion. This work also served to asses the capabilities of the newly developed autoclave.
Phase IV for work will undertake to improve on the test work completed during the previous phase by increasing shear rates and reducing or eliminating the effects of decarboxylation. A smaller volume autoclave has been designed for this test phase.
Sampling proposes to include streams from various Alberta oil sands production zones and compare these width more traditional western Canadian crudes and international crudes.
H2S Measurement in Crude Oil Project Proposal
► Mr. Segato’s presentation
In this update Dave Murray of the Alberta Innovates - Technology Futures group reiterated that the objective continues to be the development of a standardized methodology for the sampling and measurement of H2S in crude.
The project is presently testing a number of samples by IP 570 to assess matrix effects. Proposed future activities include the development of a sampling protocol, the collection of samples from various North American locations, and a testing protocol which will include H2S measurement a by number methods.
An overview of the project deliverables including participation costs was provided.
Fluorocarbons in Crude Project
► Mr. Murray’s presentation
Bob Falkiner of Imperial Oil is the project manager and reviewed some of the activities to date in this project. The project originated in response to a request for a refinery hazard assessment from a chemical supplier associated with using fluorocarbons in crude oil additives.
To date, the group has been soliciting information from manufactures on the properties of the fluorocarbon materials and exchanging information between refiners and manufacturers on the potential concerns, ramifications, and deleterious effects of having fluorocarbons present in process streams and/or refinery effluent.
This project is currently funded by the CCQTA and participation is open to all interested parties.
Alberta Oilsands – Future Positioning
► Mr. Falkiner’s presentation
Gerald Bruce presented information highlighting some of the Alberta government’s ongoing efforts in the area of technology development and sustainability. In the Alberta Government, oil sands technology development is supported through Alberta Innovates- Energy and Environment Solutions (AEIIS), the successor to the Alberta Energy Research Institute (AERI). The group funds initiatives and programs related to the development of new technologies for oil sands recovery, upgrading, GHG emissions reduction and carbon capture and storage.
Research and Development activities include advanced upgrading and gasification technologies. Environmental sustainability have been quantified through a “Well to Wheel” Life Cycle Analysis of greenhouse gas emissions , which highlighted the relative position of Canadian SAGD and mined bitumen products with other imported and US domestics heavy crudes. With the addition of cogeneration credits and emerging technologies oil sands crude GHG emission are expected to be comparable to conventional crudes.
Waste Oil Treating in Canada
► Mr. Bruce’s presentation
James Graham of CCS and Troy McElgunn of Newalta provided an overview of the regulations governing waste management in Canada. Unlike the US, where regulations can vary from state to state, the Western Canadian waste recover industry is quite standardized and highly regulated. As the two major waste treatment operators in Canada, CCS & Newalta play a major active role in the management and control of crude quality.
Canada’s Oil Sands – the in situ producer’s perspective
► Messrs. Graham and McElgunn’s presentation
Gerald Bruce presented on behalf of the In situ Oil Sands Alliance (IOSA). IOSA is the voice of an alliance of emerging in situ oil sands developers, who are actively developing the “next generation” technologies applicable to in-situ oil sands bitumen production. As only 20% of Alberta’s recoverable oil sands reserves are surface mineable, the remaining 80% will be recovered using in situ production methods. From Steam Assisted Gravity Drainage (SAGD), solvent assisted production, and other innovative new technologies, the in situ oil sands industry is positioning for a sustainable future development.
Crude Oil Compatibility and Diluent Evaluation for Pipelining
► Mr. Bruce’s presentation
Parviz Rahimi of NCUT presentation reviewed some recent work assessing the stability of some Canadian bitumens with various diluents. Results obtained from traditional compatibility modelling techniques were verified using a light transmission/backscatter instrument. Not unexpectedly, cracked materials tended to be less stable than virgin oils and for the latter, synthetic solvents performed best as diluents, while for the former natural gas condensates were the solvents of choice.
Canadian Heavy Crude Compatibility/Stability Study
► Dr. Rahimi’s presentation
Andre Lemieux of Omnicon Consultants Inc. (secretary of the CCQTA) introduced this new project proposal. The goal is to develop a better understanding of the blending limits of commercial dilbits/synbits with conventional crudes within the transportation and refinery sectors. Project work would include thorough compatibility/stability testing using available methodologies to develop a blending index for Canadian heavy crude and heavy synthetic blends.
► Mr. Lemieux’s presentation
11 February 2010. Crude Oil Quality Association.
Domestic Trading Center Subcommittee (DTC)
“Domestic Sweet / WTI Specifications”, Dennis Sutton, Marathon Petroleum, and Clifford Mills, consultant. In opening the presentation, Dennis provided a review of the Subcommittee’s history, and current work on determining quality of Domestic Sweet at Cushing, OK. Clifford then provided a detailed review of the data that has been collected on samples collected at Cushing. These included historical data on samples extending back to 2007, and data on approximately 60 samples collected within the past several months and analyzed by three independent inspection laboratories.
In addition to API gravity and total percent sulfur, the Subcommittee continues to focus on data for microcarbon residue, TAN, Ni & V, and HTSD yields at three temperatures. Much of the data from two of the three laboratories on the recent set of 61 samples are in good agreement, and provide a sound basis for development of meaningful specifications.
Dennis then discussed the next steps for the Subcommittee. These include arriving at a consensus on specifications, and determining how to enforce compliance once they are adopted. With respect to compliance, it is likely there will be a monitoring period during which quality of samples collected at Cushing can be compared with the specifications. In closing, Dennis emphasized the importance of COQA members seeking counsel from their antitrust attorneys.
► Messrs. Sutton and Mills’ presentation
The meeting then returned to presentations related to supply, distribution, and challenges associated with processing of Canadian heavy crude oil.
“Canadian Heavy Oil Industry Update”, Gerald Bruce, CHOA Executive. In opening his presentation, Gerald provided background information of the history, mission, and a few of the activities of the Canadian Heavy Oil Association (CHOA). He then discussed world resources of heavy oil and bitumen, focusing on those in Alberta. Looking back to 2008 when crude oil price peaked at over $140 per barrel, multiple, significant oil sands investment plans were made resulting in considerable competition for people, services, and resources. Then came January 2009, with its precipitous drop in crude oil price resulting in $88 billion of projects being deferred or cancelled.
This year, a number of projects involving operating, construction, or approval of mining, SAGD, and in-situ production have been announced signaling a revival of the heavy oil industry. There have also been similar announcements related to upgrading projects. While production forecasts have been adjusted downward, the overall outlook for Canadian heavy crude oil is encouraging.
► Mr. Bruce’s presentation
“Enbridge Condensate Pool (CRW) Specifications”, Randy Segato, Suncor. In 2008, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) began work on developing specifications for the Enbridge CRW stream. This was meant to help maintain quality of the local CRW pool, and to expedite approval of new condensate streams, including imports needed for expanding heavy oil production. Beginning in 2009, the Enbridge CRW Committee has met regularly in support of monitoring and maintaining quality of the stream. In support of this, referee test methods have been selected for monitoring quality in support of enforcing the specifications. A testing protocol is in place that is economic and logistically reasonable.
New CRW specifications will take effect July 1, 2010, and Randy discussed these in detail. The Canadian industry, in co-operation with regulated pipelines, is establishing specifications and mitigation procedures for all condensate feeders “at the gate” to the blended Enbridge CRW pool. The industry has wide consensus that CRW specifications should cascade to other sources of diluent supply destined for Western Canadian diluent use due to the interdependence of this commodity. CAPP, through Crudemonitor, is operating an expanded section for CRW condensate to support existing baseline data used to establish this ongoing specification.
► Mr. Segato’s presentation
“Enbridge System: Crude Types, Transportation and Handling”, Ashok Anand, Enbridge. Ashok provided an overview of the Enbridge Pipeline System, and discussed several major developments and expansion projects. Among these the Alberta Clipper, Southern Access, and Southern Lights pipelines. Enbridge transports a number of different grades ranging in quality from condensate to heavy, high TAN. A number of controls are in place for maintaining quality of the different crudes. In pipelines, line splits and rates, and batch size, sequence, and cuts are closely controlled. In tanks, tank bottom crossing are chosen to minimize unacceptable changes in quality. A useful matrix has been developed that assists in determining batch sequence.
Special procedures are observed for high TAN crudes and streams containing cracked stocks. A number of quality metrics are used for gauging performance which, in 2009, was excellent with 24 of 30 targets being met or exceeded.
► Mr. Anand’s presentation
”The Influence of Naphthenic Acid and Sulfur Compound Structure on Global Crude Corrosivity Under Vacuum Distillation Conditions “, Dr. Heather Dettman, Natural Resources Canada. Heather reported on a project conducted to improve the understanding of the contributions of specific structural features of organic acids and sulfur compounds to corrosivity at refinery temperatures. An important basis for this project is that corrosivity does not always correlate with total acid number (TAN). Some reasons for this lack of correlation arrived at in studies using model compounds are that:
- Small organic molecules are significantly more corrosive than large molecules;
- Vapor phase corrosion de to organic acids is greatest at temperatures above the boiling oint of the acid; and
- Sulfur compounds can decompose to form H2S at temperatures as low as 200°C; acid corrosion can be inhibited or enhanced depending on how much H2S is present.
22S generating ability of a crude in question will be influenced by content of CH2-S bonds and thermal history of the crude oil both in the field and in the plant.
► Dr. Dettman’s presentation
“Addressing the Challenges Associated with Canadian Crudes”, Xiomara Price, Baker Hughes. Why do we need to bother with this issue? Canadian crude oil imports to the U.S. continue to grow and, currently, are the single largest source of supply. Supply of Western Canadian crude oil is projected to grow significantly in coming years, and several pipeline projects are underway or planned to make access to U.S. markets easier. What is different about Canadian crudes oils? They exhibit a wide variability in their content of solids, asphaltenes, non-extractable salts, amines, and TAN. These present several processing challenges such as emulsion stabilization, pour desalter dehydration, high oil content in effluent to wastewater treatment facilities, and the potential for an increase in overhead corrosion and increased risk of high temperature corrosion.
Xiomara discussed some of the strategies available for assessing processing challenges of Canadian crudes, and illustrated her presentation with several case studies. A number of benefits can accrue from properly assessing Canadian crude processing capabilities. Among these are reduced feedstock costs, increased feedstock flexibility, increased unit throughput, and improved refinery profitability. These benefits can be achieved while maintaining unit integrity and flexibility, ensuring product quality, and insuring environmental compliance.
► Ms. Price’s presentation
“Challenges of Desalting Canadian Crudes”, Gary W. Sams, Cameron. Gary opened his presentation with an in-depth discussion of desalting technology and the factors and design issues that contribute to successfully processing a crude oil. He followed this by discussing selection of demulsifying agents and differences that can be manifest between “bottle tests” and “electrostatic bench tests.” The several electrostatic field options available were discussed with respect to their efficiency in desalting crudes. Gary concluded his presentation with some pilot plant results on desalting a SAGD-dilbit.
Proper selection of desalting technology can help overcome some to the challenges posed by Canadian crude oils. Among these are their high conductivity, asphaltene precipitation propensity, high solids loading, tendency to form reverse emulsions and interface rags, and poor effluent water quality.
► Mr. Sams’ presentation
“Evaluating Canadian Crudes in U.S. Gulf Coast Refineries”, Pat Swafford, Spiral Software. Pat discussed the processing capabilities of a “typical” U.S. Gulf Coast refinery. Throughput is currently a diverse mixture of crude oils, but with little coming from Canada. This could change by 2012, with expansion of the Keystone pipeline. Gulf Coast refineries may not, however, be configured to process some of the more challenging Canadian crude oils in appreciable volumes.
Pat compared several characteristics of some key Canadian crude oils to those of the “typical” Gulf Coast mixture currently being processed. Using computer crude oil knowledge management software, he presented graphic data to illustrate that Canadian crudes can be successfully processed in a “typical” Gulf Coast refinery in various amounts when mixed with other crudes.
► Mr. Swafford’s presentation
“New Desalting Chemistry for Heavy/High Solids Crudes”, S. A. Lordo, Nalco Company. Combined, South American and Canadian crude oils now make up 50% of imports to the U.S. Many of the crudes coming from these areas are challenging and have high salt, water, solids, H2S, pour point, and TAN, and exhibit asphaltene incompatibility. These can have a profound impact on desalting unit operations, wastewater treatment facilities, and crude processing, and negative economic implications. Controlling solids in the refinery requires their accurate characterization, and Sam illustrated some of the techniques used including scanning electron microscopy, X-ray diffraction, and particle size analysis. These data are then used with laboratory bottle testing with emulsion breaking additives, followed by field testing.
Sam discussed application of this approach to improving desalting of two Canadian crudes – Cold Lake and a mixture of WCS and others. For Cold Lake, past problems had been oil under carry, a large volume of oil-coated solids, and a rag layer of 36 – 48 in. Following treatment, the effluent was clean and rag layer reduced to only 6 in of emulsion, and the use of a reverse emulsion breaker discontinued. For the WCS mixture, past problems had been a thick emulsion layer and 2 – 5% oil in the effluent. Following treatment, the effluent was clean, and the use of a wetting agent discontinued and chemical dosage reduced.
► Mr. Lordo’s presentation
“Comparison of the Reactivity of Naphthenic Acids in Athabasca Bitumen and San Joaquin Valley”, Dr. Parviz Rahimi. National Center for Upgrading Technology. Athabasca bitumen contains approximately 1 mass % organic acids that are mostly concentrated in the gas oil fraction. In this study, the reactivity of naphthenic acids in the gas oil fractions of Athabasca bitumen and San Joaquin Valley crude oil were compared. Among the comparisons reported on were:
- Effect of temperature on TAN reduction in the HVGO fractions of SAGD bitumen versus SJV; and
- Effect of temperature on TAN reduction in the HVGO fractions of mined bitumen versus SJV.
The effect of sulfur types on naphthenic acid corrosion was also investigated in the study.
► Dr. Rahimi’s presentation
This concluded the February 10 – 11, 2010 meetings of the CCQTA and the COQA. The next meeting of COQA will be on June 10, 2010, in Denver, CO. The next joint meeting with CCQTA is planned for June 2012 at a location in Alberta, Canada to be decided upon.
Harry N. Giles