In Oil Sands SAGD (Steam Assisted Gravity Drainage) operation steam is injected into underground oil sands deposits to heat the bitumen locked in the sand and allow it to flow well enough to be extracted. Depending on the design of the SAGD facility, the steam distribution system can include hundreds of meters or kilometers long of piping/pipeline conveying steam from the plant to the pads. The reliability and integrity of this steam distribution system is critical for SAGD operation. This paper reports significant localized damage found at the high pressure steam distribution system in a SAGD facility. The morphology, distribution and features of the damage and the associated process conditions are summarized. Potential damage mechanisms and contributing factors are analyzed. A damage mechanism similar to conventional FAC (Flow Accelerated Corrosion) but under unique process conditions, i.e. un-conventional FAC with high temperature, high pH, low water quality, and reducing conditions, is deemed to be the most likely corrosion mechanism causing the damage. Further investigation is required to confirm and obtain a better understanding of this damage mechanism.
In Oil Sands In-Situ operation bitumen is often extracted from underground oil sands deposits through SAGD (Steam Assisted Gravity Drainage) technology. This method involves forcing steam into sub-surface oil sands deposits, usually those at depth greater than 150m (492 ft), to heat the bitumen locked in the sand, allowing it to flow well enough to be extracted . This process technology makes it possible to access the underground deposits otherwise difficult to access through the open mine method. It is particularly relevant in Canada because it is the most common method of in situ extraction used in the oil sands.
The SAGD process requires a large amount of water and energy to create steam and then send steam to the pads to be injected to underground. SAGD facilities above ground typically include water treatment, steam generation (with or without steam separators), and steam distribution piping/pipeline system. Depending on the design of the SAGD facility, the steam distribution system can include hundreds of meters or kilometers long of piping/pipeline. The reliability and integrity of this steam distribution system is critical for SAGD operation.