Meeting Archives

2015 Spring: Houston, TX, February 19

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Proceedings of Crude Oil Quality Association (COQA) Meeting
19 February 2015
Houston, TX

The early 2015 Crude Oil Quality Association (COQA) meeting was held February 19, at the Marriott West Loop, Houston with 136 in attendance.

The North Dakota Petroleum Council (NDPC) was recognized as being the newest COQA member organization.

Morning Session

Ashok Anand, Enbridge, gave an update on the Enbridge Pipelines System & Quality Pooling.  The Enbridge footprint extends from feeder systems in Northern Alberta, to the Mainline systems in Canada and US PADD II, Line 9 that runs to Montreal, and as far south as the US Gulf Coast with the Seaway system.  They transport about 2.5 million barrels of oil daily.

In 2012 and 2013, Enbridge worked with two external consultants on plans to maintain throughput in light of the growing number of commodities.  This resulted in the Quality Pooling Initiatives, which were implemented May 1, 2014.  Ashok detailed the grades that are now commingled, provided data, and concluded that quality pooling is “going well.”

Kesavalu Bagawandoss, Intertek, presented “Sampling and Analysis- Vapor Pressure Measurements in light of the new North Dakota Industrial Commission rule and API Recommended Practice 3000”.  Various sampling methods were detailed with the conclusion being that sample collection in floating piston cylinders or water filled spun cylinders is recommended; Boston round bottle samples are less desirable; and wide mouth jars are unacceptable.  Dr. Doss also provided data comparing results from ASTM D6377 and D323.

Matthew Goitia of Peaker Energy detailed the work that he and his company conducted over the past few years that resulted in the BIS ruling that “minimally refined” crude oil was acceptable for export.  In the Code of Federal Regulations, Title 15, Subtitle B, Chapter VII, Subchapter C, Part 754, §754.2, “crude oil is defined …which has not been processed through a crude oil distillation tower.”  He described what is required to meet the definition of distillation, and some of the economic and market drivers involved in the export of processed condensate.


Wesley Kimbell, Analytical Systems KECO, presented a talk on “Measuring H2S in Crude Oil for Quality Control & Transportation Safety”.  His presentation described the reasons why we measure H2S in crude; how we measure H2S in crude; methods of sampling; methods of analysis; and the operation of their instrumentation, which utilizes the colorimetric ratiometric tape detector.

Bruce Carlile and John Baker, Bureau Veritas/Inspectorate.  With the shipment of hazardous materials, whether in bulk or laboratory samples, gathering increased scrutiny, Bruce and John explained the Globally Harmonized System (GHS) for Classification and Labeling of Crude Oils.  Components of this program include:

  • Employee Training
  • Written Program
  • Hazard Classification
  • Labels
  • Safety Data Sheets

They also discussed the Do’s and Do not’s regarding the move from Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) to Safety Data Sheets (SDS). An important date to remember- MSDS must become SDS by June 1, 2015, with distributors having an extra 6 months to clear out old labels.

Afternoon Session

Baker Hughes’ Waynn Morgan presented a talk on “Crude Oil Quality Management in a Volatile Crude Pricing Market”.  With the price of crude oil dropping in half between mid-2014 and early 2015, this was a most timely title.  He began by showing historical data, reminding us that this is not the first time crude prices have seen tremendous fluctuations.  His presentation included:

  • Crude Oil Pricing vs Cost of Production
  • Crude Pricing Volatility and Impact on Crude Oil Quality Management
  • Pricing volatility impact on refining
  • Understanding the production operations
  • Examples of challenges and possible solutions- specifically H2S management, blending challenges, and sediment and water issues


Dan Villalanti of Triton Analytics Corp. presented “Crude Assay and Characteristics” highlighting chromatographic applications for crude oil analyses particularly as it pertains to:

  • Equilibrium Flash Vaporizer
  • Normal Boiling Points (NDPs) of n-paraffins
  • Hydrocarbon Type Analysis
  • Wax Related Analysis

David Lord, US Department of Energy, Sandia National Laboratories, Albuquerque, NM, updated the group on the DOE Tight Oil Flammability & Transportation Spill Safety Project”.   The DOE funding point of contact for this project is Rick Elliott, out of the Washington D.C. office; the Sandia project manager is David Borns; and David Lord leads the technical team that includes experts from Sandia, as well as the University of North Dakota and private industry.

Their project workflow will include:

  • Problem definition phase
    • Defining crude oil properties having bearing on handling and transport safety with attention to flammability risks
  • Experimental phase
    • Measure parameter ranges of relevant crude properties and compare to literature and other parallel work
  • Application phase
    • Utilize knowledge gained above to inform decisions to assure safe and economical transport of crude to market

The COQA has offered their support to the DOE in this effort, particularly as it relates to the acquisition of appropriate samples for investigation.  The COQA will look forward to updates on this project at future meetings.

With the importance of crude oil vapor pressure and volatility, Jason Nick, Ametek, provided a talk titled “Crude Oil/Crude Condensate Vapor Pressure Methodology & Practices – Continued”.  The “Continued” refers to the fact that Jason spoke at the early 2014 meeting in New Orleans, but much has happened over the past 12 months.

With much confusion regarding terminology, Jason carefully defined True Vapor Pressure, Bubble Point Pressure, and Reid Vapor Pressure Equivalent.   He also summarized the changes to ASTM D6377 that occurred in October of 2014. 

His three suggested Do’s and Don’ts of TVP testing were:

  • Don’t use an open bottle to transport and test the crude oil sample.
  • If V/L ratio and testing temperature is not clearly defined for testing, do use the lowest V/L ratio that equipment allows or a V/L ratio that simulates the filling level and temp of the stock in transportation/storage.
  • If not restricted to reporting RVPE, do report TVP as VPCRx, t.


Bob Falkiner, representing the CCQTA, provided an update of the CCQTA projects.  For details on these projects, visit their web site at

Dennis Sutton, Executive Director COQA, shared information regarding the recent quality of WTI/Domestic Sweet crude.  Recall, in 2010, the COQA sent a letter to all interested parties recommending additional specifications be added to the existing CME (NYMEX) contract for light, sweet crude oil.  To date, CME has verbally supported these specifications, but has not formally adopted them into their Rulebook.  Thus, the question was raised among the membership at the previous meeting:  What is the current quality of WTI?  Under agreement of confidentiality, Dennis received data from multiple parties, and provided an update of current quality.  Encouragingly, the data provided shows all of the COQA recommended specs are being met.  However, the API is rising to the 42 limit, and the Vanadium levels have been increasing.

This concluded the February 19, 2015 meeting of the COQA. The next meeting will be June 11, 2015 at the Hyatt Regency in Minneapolis, MN.


Dennis Sutton
Executive Director, COQA