The Alberta Oil Sands Technology and Research Authority (AOSTRA) has completeda study with Industry confirming the technical and economic feasibility of acommercial oil sands surface mining venture using the AOSTRA Taciuk Process(ATP) and hydrotreating to produce a widely marketable synthetic crude.
A joint Industry/AOSTRA task force consisting of representatives from overtwenty industry and government organizations was actively involved in thedefinition of this study. The task force scrutinized and evaluated the ATPtechnology, selected the criteria for determining the commercial viability, andconfirmed the comparative economics of the ATP based project vs. a moreconventional hot water extraction based project.
A comprehensive Technical and Cost Evaluation Work program was also conductedto provide industry with the technical information required for a clear andconfident understanding of the ATP technology.
The results and highlights of these studies are reported as well as a plan forthe next phase of the commercial development of oil sands using this innovativetechnology.
These are difficult times for the oil industry in general and especially forany consideration of new commercial projects in heavy oil/oil sands. The recentglut of conventional light oil on the international market has again served toemphasize the vulnerability that a Canadian oil sands developer must face whenattempting to justify a new project. Since the oil industry cannot control theultimate price that their product oil will command, the challenge then is toreduce the cost of producing that product. This must be done through thedevelopment of more efficient, cost effective and of course environmentallyacceptable technologies.
One of the objectives of the new Oil Sands and Research Division of the Alberta Department of Energy is to ensure, in partnership with Industry, that costreducing, innovative technologies for the production of oil sands/bitumen arebeing developed.
This same concept was the starting point for an initiative by the Alberta Oil Sands Technology and Research Authority (AOSTRA is now part of the Oil Sandsand Research Division of the Department of Energy) to undertake a cooperativeassessment with Industry of the AOSTRA Taciuk Process (ATP). The objective ofthis assessment was to demonstrate that an oil sands miningproject based on ATPtechnology is both technically and commercially viable under existing economicconditions.
This paper presents the results and highlights of this assessment and outlinesa plan for the next phase of thecommercial development of oil sands using thisinnovative technology.
The AOSTRA Taciuk Process (ATP) is an innovative and robust processing systemdeveloped by AOSTRA and UMATAC Industrial Processes, Division of UMAEngineering Ltd. (UMATAC). It is a thermal retorting or pyrolysis processdeveloped specifically for the simultaneous extraction and primary upgrading ofbitumen in mined oil sands. Process operation occurs in a single horizontalvessel which is subdivided into four distinct functional zones. The productsfrom the process are a pipelineable, coker type24 ºAPI gravity distillate, dryhydrocarbon-free tailings, off-gases, and a produced water.