Upcoming Division Event

Understanding analytical tests and data quality requirements for oilsands mining
Speaker: Tea Malkova | CNRL 
Location: Halliburton Training Centre, Room 1830, 645-7th Ave SW, Calgary AB 

November 7, 2018 @ 8:00am 

Registration for this event is required due to limited space. If you are not a member please create an account to sign-up. 

During the past thirty years of oil sands mining, the contribution of many physical and chemical characteristics to the extractability of Athabasca oil sands has been documented.  Between-operator and between-laboratory variations can be sufficiently large that variability in the data can exceed the resolution required for reliable prediction of oil sand performance.  Any operator, who intends to generate a data base over several years of core programs, should pay attention to the consistency of their data.

A typical mining core analysis includes the following tests:
Bitumen, water and solids content.   The systematic error between two laboratories, both performing competently by current industry standards, can be up to 0.5% absolute.  This implies a bitumen tonnage error of 5% relative. 

Water soluble ions and pH.  Process water chemistry controls how any clays in the oil sand act in the extraction process: clays in presence of Caundlcium have negative impact on bitumen recovery. High Chloride concentrations lead to pipe corrosion.

Methylene blue index.  This index which is a measure of clay activity is a critical parameter in both extraction and tailings management.  In extraction, the amount of clay in the oil sand feed defines the maximum recovery. In tailings, the clay content and activity provides the geotechnical character that determines if there is segregation of the coarse and fines particles during settling and early stages of consolidation.

Particle size distribution.  This description is important for three purposes:
o Operational:  Transport of slurries and the necessity to avoid sanding out of lines. 
o Process (most primary separation cells being defined in part by a metrics such as tones of fines per m2 of cell surface per hour); and 
o Tailings (anticipated volumes of fluid fine tailings and settling basin capacity) purposes.

Of the analytical tests described above, only the Dean-Stark method measures distinctly defined “absolute” characteristics of the oil sand.  On the other extreme, particle size distributions are influenced very strongly by the method used to make the measurement.  
The Fines Management Working Group of COSIA undertook a project to develop a method for measuring fines that would result in “technically sound, statistically defendable, and consistent measurement methodology for oil sands fines (<44-micron particle size) which is applicable across all areas of an oil sands processing facility.” The ultimate client for this work was the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER), as required by the now replaced Directive 74. Their ability to equitably monitor tailings management practices at the various sites would be enhanced if all of the oil sand operators in the Athabasca region could generate comparable fines data. 
The Unified Fines Method that was tabled to the Tailings EPA of COSIA contained four distinct pathways. Each of these pathways included sample disaggregation, subsampling, dispersion, and measurement itself. 
The inter-laboratory study (ILS) was intended to provide the repeatability and reproducibility statistics for the  Unified Fines Method.  However, the ILS demonstrated that reproducibility, which is the difference in fines measurements that will be exceeded only one time in twenty by two randomly chosen but competent laboratories, was very poor. The reproducibility relative to the fines content ranged from 40% to 90% for materials such as oil sand core in two separate inter-laboratory studies. 
The project objective was also extended to include “the incidental benefit to measuring the entire Particle Size Distribution (PSD).” However, the data acquired during the ILS was not sufficient to support findings regarding the entire PSD. Given the poor reproducibility demonstrated during ILS 2, and the rescinding of Directive 74, the FMWG does not recommend the enclosed methods to be implemented as an industry standard.

Tea Malkova is a Mine Geologist at CNRL Horizon. She has 30 years’ experience in geology, areas of gold mine and oil sands exploration. Last ten years she was involved in oil sands laboratory analysis and statistics and the Fines Management Working Group of COSIA. Tea obtained her M.Sc. Geology at the St-Petersburg State University in Russia in 1996 and B.Sc. Software Engineering at the St-Petersburg University of Aerospace Instrumentation in 2003.

Division Profile

The Heavy Oil / Oil Sands Division was originally established in November 2007. The purpose of the division was to provide a forum for CSPG members and guests who are either employed and/or interested in learning more about the disciplines of heavy oil and oil sands. This division is focused on providing attendees the opportunity to learn more about the geology, technology, various projects and development in the heavy oil / oil sands industry. In addition, this forum will provide the attendee the chance to network with their peers and meet new contacts in the industry.

The division will host a breakfast session that will take place in the Halliburton Training Room which is located at Room 1830, 645 - 7th Avenue SW.  The forum will start at 8:00am and starts with a 10 minute introduction, followed by a 40 minute talk, and will conclude with 10 minutes to network. We are looking for sponsors for our continental breakfast. The sponsor will get promoted on our group email as well as at the event. During the introduction each sponsor will be able to talk for up to 5 minutes about their company, services and products. The sponsoring company will also be able to provide a business card draw.

The monthly forum will be the first Wednesday of each month. We expect to host additional events throughout the year to allow our attendees the opportunity to do more networking. Some of these events include a Christmas party and Stampede party. The events will be complimentary and will be sponsored by various service companies engaged in the heavy oil / oil sands industry.

If you are interested in becoming a volunteer, giving a presentation, sponsoring an events, or joining our mailing list, please contact of one volunteers or chairperson.


Co-Chair: Robert Paul, rpaul@agatlabs.com | 403.880.3116
Co-Chair: Doug Schmaltz, schmaltz@agatlabs.com | 403.471.7858

Committee Members:

Alexandra Nagy – Alexandra.Nagy@huskyenergy.com
Doug Kozak – dougkozak@3d-p.com 
Laura Normore – Laura.normore@terracon.ca
Jennifer Connolly- jennifer.connolly@rpsgroup.com