|Owners||Canadian Oil Sands Partnership #1 - 36.74%
Imperial Oil Resources - 25%
Suncor Energy Oil & Gas Partnership - 12%
Sinopec Oil Sands Partnership - 9.03%
Nexen Oil Sands Partnership - 7.23%
Mocal Energy Ltd - 5%
Murphy Oil Co Ltd - 5%
|Operator||Sycrude Canada Ltd.|
288,000 barrels per day in 2010
|Deposit Type||Sedimentary bituminous sands|
|Reserves & Resources||
2.612 billions of barrels (Reserves, December 2011)
|Mining Method||Open pit|
|Processing Method||Crushing, frothing, primary & secondary upgrading|
|Mining Equipment||Truck & shovel|
|Processing equipment||Tumblers, vibrating screens, hydrotransport system, primary separation vessels, tailings oil recovery vessels, froth treatment plant|
PO BAG 4023
Fort McMurray, Alberta
Canada T9H 3H5
Last updated: July 18, 2012
Syncrude Canada Ltd. operates the largest oil sands facility in the world, producing crude oil from the Athabasca oil sands formation in Alberta, Canada.
Oil sand is defined as sand and other rock material which contain bitumen. Each particle of oil sand is coated with a layer of water and a thin film of bitumen.
The Syncrude Project is a Joint Venture undertaking among Canadian Oil Sands Limited, Imperial Oil Resources, Mocal Energy Limited, Murphy Oil Company Ltd., Nexen Oil Sands Partnership, Sinopec Oil Sands Partnership and Suncor Energy Oil and Gas Partnership, as the project owners, and Syncrude as the project operator.
The assets of the Joint Venture consist of the mining, extraction, upgrading and administrative facilities located at the Mildred Lake Plant (approximately 40 kilometres north of the City of Fort McMurray); the Aurora mining, primary extraction, co-generation and administrative facilities (located approximately 35 kilometres northeast of the Mildred Lake Plant).
Syncrude corporate headquarters are located in the city of Fort McMurray, 440 kilometres northeast of Edmonton, Alberta.
Syncrude currently has the capacity to supply 15% of the nation's petroleum requirements.
Syncrude is near 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. It is near the Athabasca oil sands and has become a boomtown because of it, with prices and the atmosphere to match. The population of the area surrounding Fort McMurray is about 75,000.
Syncrude Canada is a joint venture of oil and gas companies developing Athabasca oil sands properties in northeastern Alberta, Canada. Operations include three separate mines: the Base, North, and Aurora mines. The operation is on eight leases totalling 258,000 hectares of property. The main plant site is located at Mildred Lake, 40 kilometres north of Fort McMurray, and about 500 kilometers northeast of Edmonton.
The Mildred Lake operations include the original Base Mine and the North Mine (both located on lease 17). The operation includes the upgrader facility which also takes oil sands feed from the Aurora mine site located 35 kms to the north.
Oil sands (also called 'tar sands') are found in about 70 countries in the
world, and one of the largest, if not the largest, is northeastern Alberta. The
oil sands are found in three regions: Athabasca (the Fort McMurray area), and
the Peace River and Cold Lake areas on the Saskatchewan border. The oil sands
cover an area of more than 140,000 km2. Syncrude states that the entire oil
sands deposit is twice the size of Lake Ontario.
The theory is that the oil sands evolved in highly organic Cretaceous shales in the southern portion of the Alberta Sedimentary Basin. Underground pressure forced the oil to soak into the existing sediment and sand of the McMurray formation.
Oil sands consist of bitumen (soluble organic matter, solid at room
temperature) and host sediment, with associated minerals, and excluding any
related natural gas. The crude bitumen within the sands is a naturally
occurring viscous mixture of hydrocarbons (generally heavier than pentane),
often with sulphur compounds, that will not flow to a wellbore in its natural
state. Upon heating, the bitumen will flow, and on a hot summers' day, bitumen
oozes from the outcrops along the river valleys in northeast Alberta. It is
estimated that the Athabasca Oil Sands deposit contains 1.7 trillion barrels
(270 km3) of crude oil but using current tehcnology only 311 billion barrels
(49.4 km3) could be extracted. Deposit Summary
The Syncrude operation exploits a portion of the Athabasca oil sands deposit. Ore bodies are buried beneath 50 to 150 feet of overburden, have bitumen grades ranging from 4 to 14 percent by weight, and ore bearing sand thickness of 100 to 160 feet.
The North Mine uses a truck and shovel system. It is more cost effective due
to lower maintenance costs and the capacity of the larger equipment. The
shovels dig approximately 90 tons of ore per scoop. The trucks transport up to
400 tonnes to the double roll crushers that size the feed.
The oil sand is conveyed to a mixing operation in the cyclofeeder where the oil sand is combined with hot water to create a slurry and sent by pipeline to the extraction plant. In 2000 the first hydrotransport production started at the Aurora project, 35 kilometres north of Mildred Lake.
The hydraulic shovels used at Aurora are amongst the biggest in the world - digging 43 m3 of material with each scoop. The haul trucks at Aurora and the North Mine are the 400-ton Caterpillar 797's. A 320-ton truck carrying a full load of oil sand weighs over a million pounds - as much as a jet airliner. Once the oil sand at Aurora is mined, the trucks deposit it into a crusher. The crusher operates at a peak rate of 11,000 tonnes per hour.
A mixing box combines the oil sand from the crusher with hot water, in a low energy extraction process. At Aurora, the temperature in this process is approximately 35°C (at the North mine, the temperature is 50°C), which is substantially lower than the 80°C extraction temperature used in the original process.
In a typical year 74 million BCMs (banked cubic metres) or 155 million tonnes per year of oil sand is mined. In 2004, 170.9 million tonnes were mined.
Once the raw oil (bitumen) is extracted from the sand using steam and hot water, it is upgradeed into crude oil by fluid coking, hydroprocessing, hydrotreating and reblending. Bitumen is converted from a viscous, tar-like substance to Syncrude Sweet Blend, a high quality, light sweet crude oil with no residual bottoms and the lowest sulphur content of any crude in North America. The final product, called Syncrude Sweet Blend (SSB), is sent by pipeline to three Edmonton area refineries and to pipeline terminals which ship it to refineries in Canada and the United States.
Oil sands is fed into tumblers where steam, hot water and caustic soda are added to form a slurry and condition it for bitumen separation. Aurora froth mixes with this slurry in the tumblers, and then the combined slurry is discharged onto vibrating screens where large material is rejected. This feed is blended with the oil sand slurry from the North mine hydrotransport system. The blended slurry is fed into four Primary Separation Vessels (PSVs) and two Auxiliary Settling Areas (ASAs). The bitumen primary froth floats to the top, the sand settles to the bottom, and middlings are pumped to Tailings Oil Recovery (TOR) vessels. Froth from the TOR vessels is recycled through the PSVs to improve its quality. Bitumen recovered from TOR vessel middlings is processed by a secondary flotation plant, and then combined with the PSV’s primary froth. The feed is then deaerated, heated and fed into the Froth Treatment Plant.
At Aurora, oil sand slurry is hydrotransported three kilometres to PSVs, during which time it has already been conditioned for bitumen separation, eliminating the need for tumblers. The froth then travels 35 kilometres via pipeline to the Mildred Lake operation for froth cleaning, treatment and bitumen upgrading.
The first step in upgrading is recovering naphtha for recycling to the froth
treatment plant. Next, the bitumen is fed through a vacuum distillation unit to
remove vacuum gas oil (37% by volume) and process the remaining bitumen through
two fluid cokers and one LC-Finer hydroprocessor.
Fluid coking is thermal cracking of the bitumen into lighter components and removal of carbon. The by-products from this process are fluid coke, CO gas and refinery off gas. Each coker can currently process 125,000 barrels of bitumen per day. The LC-Finer breaks down bitumen into lighter hydrocarbons by adding hydrogen with the aid of a catalyst.
The products of the cokers, the LC-Finer and the top ends from the vacuum distillation unit are then processed in hydrotreating units. Hydrotreated components are then blended into SSB. The final upgraded product is comparable to other sweet conventional crude oil.Syncrude provides 13% of Canada's oil needs.
Syncrude supplies sufficient steam, electricity, air, and water for its three mines. There is a utility plant at the Mildred Lake site that uses refinery off gas produced by the upgrading operation augmented with natural gas. Syncrude also owns an 80-Megawatt gas turbine power plant at Aurora North that provides electrical and thermal energy for the mine.
Syncrude is committed to protecting and promoting the safety and well being of employees, contractors, communities, environment.
Sycrude believes excellence and continuous improvement in environment, health and safety performance are in the best interest of all stakeholders.
Sycrude desired outcomes are a workplace where everyone upholds Syncrude's
Vision, Values and Guiding Principles, a workplace that fosters the emotional
and physical well being of employees, a workplace where incidents that could
harm people or the environment do not occur, and a workplace where all
employees and contractors demonstrate personal commitment to operational