Meeting Archives

2014 Fall Joint COQA - CCQTA: San Francisco, CA, October 30 & 31

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The fourth biennial joint Crude Oil Quality Association (COQA)/ Canadian Crude Quality Technical Association (CCQTA) international meeting was held October 30 &31, 2014 at the Hyatt Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco, CA.  Previous joint meetings were in Calgary (2008); New Orleans (2010); and Kananaskis, AB (2012). 

The theme of the two day conference was "North American Crude Quality: Managing the Growth".

We are especially grateful for our event sponsors for this meeting:
  • JP3- who sponsored the breakfast on Thursday
  • AGAT Laboratories- who sponsored the breaks on Thursday
  • Bureau Veritas/ Maxxam/ Inspectorate- who sponsored the buffet lunch on Friday

Day 1, Thursday October 30

Dennis Sutton, Executive Director of the COQA, opened the meeting by welcoming the 125-130 attendees.  Both Dennis and Gerald Bruce, CCQTA President, then provided overviews of their organizations.

Dennis reviewed the mission of the COQA, highlighted the new web site, looked back at some of COQA's significant accomplishments, and thanked the corporate sponsors.  The first 2015 COQA meeting will be in Houston on February 19 at the Marriott West Loop.

Gerald's talk summarized the CCQTA- Past, Present and Future.  Gerald recognized the 83 member companies, and reviewed the 12 current Member Funded Projects.  He also presented information on governance changes within the CCQTA.

Martin Tallett of EnSys Energy provided an outstanding overview of "North American Crude Supply and Logistics".  The changing logistics were emphasized as crude pipelines historically were designed to take crude IN to the US interior not OUT to the coasts.  The needs of moving crude to the coasts have been met largely by rail.   He concluded by discussing some of the regulatory and political issues.

Harry Giles of PetroStorTech LLC updated the group on the ASTM Crude Oil Testing & Training Programs.  Harry continues to provide training on crude oil quality through the ASTM training program.  He described the Crude Oil Proficiency Testing Program and the value it provides for participating companies.

Tupper Hull of Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) proudly wore his World Champion San Francisco Giants jersey as he presented a look at the Energy Industry in California.  In some ways, it is the best of times as production is up, but also the worst of times with much environmental opposition.   He put California's size into perspective with his slide showing that California is the third largest fuel consuming entity on earth, behind the US as a whole and all of China.  In addition, California's crude by rail imports have doubled over the past year. 

John Powell of the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) next presented an update on Gas and Crude Oil Production Outlook.  The growth of tight oil production was clearly seen on his graph showing the tight oil production now makes up 50% of total U.S. oil production, with Bakken and Eagle Ford being the largest two areas.  From a crude quality standpoint, EIA predicts that 60% of the production growth in 2014 and 2015 will be in grades with APIs of 40+.

Dennis Sutton then led a general discussion on the definition of "condensate", as this topic has received a great deal of discussion in recent months, particularly regarding hydrocarbon exports..  John Powell provided an introduction to the topic with a few slides showing the different definitions currently in place for defining condensate.  OPEC has a definition and at least 8 U.S. states have definitions on the books.  While this is a topic where the COQA might provide expertise, no future effort was proposed at this time.

Beth Treseder of API presented an update on the recently published API Recommended Practice 3000 for "Classifying and Loading of Crude Oil into Rail Tank Cars". The 40 page document covers  details on these procedures and associated records retention.

Hillary Stevenson and Bridget Hunsucker of Genscape presented a talk on "Crude-by-Rail Economics and Monitoring".  Genscape's mission is to ensure greater transparency in the commodities and energy markets by providing the most accurate and complete fundamental data possible.  Their slides showed the various rail loading and unloading facilities for Bakken crude and predicted that West Coast crude-by-rail markets are poised to expand.

Charles Ward, Alberta Department of Energy (ADOE) provided an update on  "Alberta Bitumen Assay Program Overview, Technical Challenges and Learnings." Recall, he had spoken at the 2012 joint meeting in Kananaskis.  Much of the  Alberta bitumen is sold based on a bitumen valuation methodology (BVM).  Charles highlighted some of the specific sampling challenges with bitumen, including:

  • Identifying appropriate sample points
  • Light end losses
  • Sample size
  • Safety

To date, they have tested 29 samples, gathering significant intelligence of the bitumen.

Kari Cutting of the North Dakota Petroleum Council (NDPC) gave an update of North Dakota Oil and Gas.  Production continues to grow with August 2014 crude expected to be over 1.1 million B/D.  Logistically, the transportation by rail dropped from 66% in March 2014 to 60% in October 2014.  Flaring is a topic receiving much attention from the North Dakota regulators.  Kari summarized the Turner, Mason & Co. Bakken crude quality study which was released in July 2014.  The data, taken from over 100 samples obtained at the well sites and the rail loading facilities, shows the Bakken to be similar to other light U.S. crude grades.  Well site crude conditioning has also garnered much attention, with a North Dakota Industrial Commission (NDIC) meeting on November 13 addressing regulation of those procedures.

The first day concluded with Matthew Goitia summarizing the previous day's discussion on crude by rail.
Day 2, Friday October 31

The morning session of day 2 featured a Canadian emphasis.

Ashok Anand of Enbridge was unable to attend so Randy Segato (Suncor/CCQTA/COQA) "pinch hit" for him, with Ashok providing him with his slides.  Following approximately two years of discussion and decision making, on May 1, 2014, Enbridge began pooling similar grades of crude in their system.  The main goal of this effort was to increase throughput and Enbridge reported that the estimated gains resulting from Quality Pooling have been 84,794 B/D. Enbridge monitors their quality and the data is available through  Ashok has been invited to provide a detailed update at an upcoming COQA meeting.

Dan Wispinski (Alberta Innovates- Technology Futures) and Bob Falkiner (Imperial Oil Engineering Services) presented "Live Crude Oil Volatility".   They define live crude as "crude oil with sufficiently high vapor pressure that it would boil if exposed to normal atmospheric pressure at room temperature".   Their proposed method is on ASTM D02.04 Subcommittee ballot closing October 30, 2014.

Continuing on the theme of analyzing light crude oils, Cameron Konecnik, TransCanada, presented "TVP Project Update- HPLIS/ Gas Chromatograph vs. ASTM D6377 VPCR Results".  Cameron and his team have been working on the accurate measurement of vapor pressure of light crude oils for the past few years and this presentation included extensive comparative data (ASTM D323 vs. D6377)  from their work.  Their conclusions included:

  • A study was conducted in September 2014 on 27 samples.  In all cases, the ASTM D6377 Floating Piston Cylinder results were higher than the D323A results.  The average D323A/D6377 results indicate RVPE = 0.88* VPCR4 (100ºF).  While this is fairly close to the specified 0.834 multiplier found in the Appendix of D6377, it should not be taken verbatim, as there was significant variability.
  • VPCRresults from ASTM D6377 are highly repeatable and reproducible.

Derek Fraser of Maxxam Analytics offered a technical data review of the Alberta bitumen assay program.  A requirement of the Alberta Department of Energy (DOE) Bitumen Assay project was to test bitumen prior to any diluent addition in the field. To this end, three sample types were studied:

  • Cold Production Emulsions
  • Thermal Emulsions
  • Mining Emulsions (Froth)

Summarizing the Bitumen Assay Project, they analyzed samples from 3 regions and 30 locations, using 35 analytical methods, generating 3000 points of analytical data total.

At each COQA meeting, time is allotted for an update on the CCQTA projects.  As this was a joint meeting, an extended time was provided for the project managers to review the projects.  Randy Segato shared the YouTube video "I'm an expert", which injected a humorous look at how we "technical experts" sometimes interact.  The CCQTA currently has 12 member funded projects, including Condensate Quality, TVP/RVP, and a new project being initiated on crude oil flammability.

The Friday afternoon session shifted to more general talks.

James Johnson, Marathon Petroleum (MPC), shared his company's experiences "Processing Today's Crudes".  MPC is the fourth largest transportation fuels refiner in the US, and the largest in the Midwest.  They are able to process a wide variety of crudes from light, tight oils, to heavy Canadian bitumens.  At the Galveston Bay refinery, that was acquired in 2013, they have eliminated foreign sweet crude, replacing it with domestic sweet and Canadian grades. Some of the problems they have experienced with the shale grades include:

  • Low Sulfur/ Low TAN
  • High Paraffin
  • Variable Quality
  • H2S scavenger usage
  • Phosphorus Fouling
  • Barium Sulfate Fouling

Jim concluded his talk by emphasizing the importance of support and participation in Technical Associations such as the COQA and CCQTA for success processing today's opportunity crudes.

Following Jim's talk, we had a group of three technical presentations.

Phil Harris of JP3 addressed "Enhancing Oil Production and Value Through Real- Time Spectroscopic Analysis".  JP3 was founded in 2006 and their first product launched in 2012.  They utilize Near Infrared (NIR) spectroscopy to provide real-time analyses of hydrocarbon composition and physical properties.  The presentation included the application of this technology for RVP optimization in the field, saving money as they were able to control closer to the specification.

Steve Freshman of Owlstone provided an update on "Owlstone's VOC sensor/ Crude Quality Applications".  Owlstone manufactures, sells and supports high performance chemical analyzers that utilize a proprietary variant of Field Asymmetric Ion Mobility Spectrometry (FAIMS).  With this approach, they are able to achieve sub-ppm sensitivity with high selectivity.  His presentation included applications for triazine and MEA in crude; methanol in crude; carbonyl sulfide in propane; and organic chlorides in crude. 

"On-Site Quantification of Monoethanolamine in Crude Oils" was presented by Sai RPinappu of Baker Hughes.  His talk discussed sources of tramp amines, their impact, and current monitoring methods.  The Baker Hughes methodology utilizes FAIMS to provide real-time analyses.  He provided a refinery application demonstrating that the analyses enabled timely implementation of mitigation programs to minimize corrosion.

Scott Sederberg of Chevron concluded the conference, tying things together by looking at a brief history of Chevron,  historical game changers in crude oil production, and more recent tight oil developments.  The "gamechangers" discussed were:

  • Pico Canyon North Los Angeles  1876
  • Spindletop Texas  1901
  • Saudi Arabia Damman #7  1938
  • Alaska North Slope  1978
  • US Tight Oil  2010+

The U.S. tight oil developments are reversing a 40 year production decline trend, with the maximum yet to be realized.  

The 2015 COQA meetings will be as follows:

  • February 19, 2015-  Houston Marriott West Loop
  • June 2015-  Minneapolis, MN
  • Fall 2015- New Orleans, LA