Thursday, February 25, 2010

The best simple description of Oil Sands Development I've seen.

Today I got a call from Energy Today Magazine about our business. In checking into their online addition I came across a few good articles. One in particular goes in depth to the process of capturing and developing oil sands in Alberta, Canada.

An excerpt from Cooperation Needed by Brent Sangster:

The mining and extraction process made a dramatic technological leap in the 1980s when it converted from dragline and bucket wheels to hydraulic and electric shovels that load the raw material (e.g., sand, clay, bitumen) on to massive trucks that today have a capacity of 400 tons.

These trucks transport the material to a crusher, where it is slurried with water before being transported via pipeline to an extraction plant. New technology is being tested here to move the crushing and slurrying operations right to the mine face, eliminating trucks or at least significantly reducing hauling distances.At the extraction plant, the bitumen is isolated from the water, sand, and clay (known as tailings), which are pumped into large containment ponds for settling and eventual reuse. Some unrecovered bitumen and naptha finds its way into these ponds as well.

Tailings ponds are designed to reclaim both the water and the area itself as a natural habitat. But the silts in the mixture can take many years to settle, during which time nearby water sources must be safeguarded from contamination and the ponds must be monitored to ensure wildlife is not exposed.

Technological issues here focus on ways to increase the speed of silt settling, such as using chemical thickeners or centrifuges to separate the silt from the water. Other needed advancements include technologies to remove the residual bitumen, recover valuable minerals such as zircon, and polish the water for re-use.

Just something I thought might be worth finding again.