|Owners||Shell - 60%
Chevron - 20%
Marathon - 20%
|Operator||Albian Sands Energy|
Base project 155 kboe/d capacity; Expansion project: an addtional 100kboe/d capacity
|Deposit Type||Sedimentary bituminous sands|
|Reserves & Resources||
Over 5 billion barrels of mineable bitumen
|Mine Type||Surface oil sands mining|
|Mining Method||Open pit|
|Processing Method||Crushing, frothing, primary & secondary upgrading|
|Mining Equipment||Truck & shovel|
|Processing equipment||Crushers, screens, hydro-transport pumps, separation vessels, diluent recovery unit, coker|
Shell Canada Limited
Last updated: May 4, 2012
Athabasca Oil Sands Project (AOSP) is located in Alberta, Canada.
The first oil sands plant, built by what is known today as Suncor Energy, began commercial production in 1967, followed by Syncrudeâ€™s Mildred Lake project, which commenced operation in 1978.
It converts bitumen into synthetic crude oil products for refineries. The production process begins at the Muskeg River Mine where the worldâ€™s largest trucks use giant shovels to excavate the ore containing the bitumen. Using warm water we separate the bitumen from sand and clay. The resulting heavy, viscous bitumen is diluted with a solvent, and transported by pipeline to the Scotford Upgrader where it is converted into synthetic crude oils.
At different refineries, including SOSP Scotford Refinery, the crude is further processed into fuel products. The AOSP has a design capacity of 155,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day. A 100,000-barrel-a-day expansion of both mining and upgrading facilities is currently under construction. More expansions are planned to achieve the long-term goal of producing more than 500,000 barrels a day.
The Muskeg Mine is 75 km north of Fort McMurray in northeastern Alberta, Canada. Fort McMurray is 435 km northeast of Edmonton on Highway 63, about 60 km west of the Saskatchewan border. The population of the area surrounding Fort McMurray is about 75,000.
Aboriginal peoples were the first to use bitumen from the Athabasca sands hundreds of years ago to waterproof clothing and canoes. Efforts to commercialize oil sands deposits occurred in the late 19th century and first part of the 20th century, but had limited results.
Oil sands are found in three different deposits in northern Alberta:
Athabasca, Peace River and Cold Lake. The Athabasca deposit is the largest of
the three and has the most concentrated oil sands
The Muskeg River Mine is on Lease 13, a 121-square-kilometre area. In the first phase of the Project, the west side of Lease 13 is being mined from a reserve base estimated to contain 1.6 billion barrels (proved and probable) of bitumen. Expansion into the east side of Lease 13 and lease 90 would add another 3.2 billion barrels of bitumen resources.
Expansion on two nearby leases, Leases 88 and 89 would add a further resource base of 3.9 billion barrels.
The total available bitumen resource from these leases is 8.7 billion barrels.
Mining is done by open pit mining methods - truck and shovel operations.
The current production capacity of AOSP is 155,000 b/d of synthetic crude.
Shell has regulatory approvals in place for Muskeg River Mine, Muskeg River Mine Expansion and Jackpine Mine, enabling production up to a total of 470,000 b/d of minable bitumen. In addition, Shell has existing licences for 290,000 b/d of synthetic crude production at the Scotford Upgrader.
Oil sands are crushed into small pieces, then screened and mixed with hot water. The resulting slurry is transported via pipelines to a bitumen extracting plant where the slurry undergoes a frothing process that results in the separation of sand and minerals from bitumen. Sand and water are deposited in a tailings pond while bitumen is mixed with solvent and piped to the primary upgrading plant.
The bitumen is separated from the diluent and then transported to the cracking unit where it is subjected to high temperatures. This process produces different hydrocarbon cuts like gas oil, diesel, coke, refinery fuel gas and naphta. The fuel gas is used in upgrader's furnaces while coke is trucked to a storage area for future utilization.
The rest of the hydrocarbons are sent to a secondary upgrader as they need further processing. It is there that hydrogen is added to help stabilize the hydrocarbons and impurities like nitrogen and sulphur are removed. The emaining hydrocarbons are blended into a mixture called Synthetic Crude Oil and transported via pipelines to other North American refineries.
The Calgary Research Centre (CRC) undertakes research and technology, providing laboratory and technical services to Shell in Canada.
The CRC employs more than 200 scientists, technologists and engineers focused on ensuring a smaller environmental footprint for the operations, including reduced water usage and reduced greenhouse gas emissions from Canadaâ€™s oil sands developments.
AOSP is developing the oil sands responsibly by incorporating phased land reclamation plans that incorporate indigenous environmental knowledge. With an increase in production from oil sands, emissions of carbon dioxide (C02) will go up too - underscoring our ambition to develop a leading ability in managing C02 in a number of ways, including greater efficiency and technological innovation. For example, the first stage of expansion will employ a new technology that cleans the bitumen froth more efficiently, saving energy and water and avoiding C02 emissions by 40,000 tonnes a year.
In 2008, more than C$210 million of Shellâ€™s total local spending went towards purchasing supplies and services from aboriginal groups such as the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation.
Fuels produced from oil sands bitumen emit 15% more carbon dioxide (CO2) than conventional crude oil on a wells-to-wheels basis. We are working to reduce this gap by improving our energy efficiency and exploring the potential for large-scale capture and storage of CO2.
Shell Enhance is a new high temperature froth treatment process that can reduce energy usage by about 10%, avoiding 40,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions a year. Developed by scientists at Shell and Natural Resources Canada, Shell Enhance will be built into the first expansion phase of the Athabasca Oil Sands Project (AOSP Expansion 1) now under construction.
Shell is also developing new technologies and processes to improve the management of fresh water at both our Muskeg River Mine and Scotford Upgrader. This will allow Shell to increase water treatment, recycling and storage at both facilities.
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