One technique to recover oil from oil sands deposits is mining. Using heavy machinery, oil sands ore is dry mined and slurried with hot water in the mine area. The oil, in the form of bitumen, is later separated from the sand, cleaned, and processed by an upgrader. This process presents a number of challenges for the producer.
Hydro-transportation to the process plant sees the bitumen begin to separate as froth. Bitumen separation is completed in extraction and the froth is collected, diluted and moved forward to froth treatment. Here, water and solids (clay and mineral fines from the ore) are removed prior to the bitumen going to the upgrader. Due to the volumes mined and the inconsistency of the ore, recovery of sufficient bitumen and the subsequent removal of the last remaining solid fines and water from the froth present significant challenges. Corrosion erosion is also a major concern in this process.
Champion Technologies has been a leader in bitumen froth treatment for 20 years through the application of its range of custom-formulated demulsifiers. Our mining team has conducted applied research and provided field support in the development of process aids to assist bitumen separation, solutions to help with tailings processing and chemistries to provide solutions in upgrading and asset integrity.
The Champion Technologies Difference:
Champion Technologies has made significant gains in oil sands research over the last two decades. Our reputation for conducting cutting-edge research and development in oil sands technologies has led to joint development agreements with customers, allowing cooperative research programs to produce technically superior and cost-effective chemistries, improving operational efficiencies for our customers.
Capabilities and industry-focused research
Our Canadian facilities house some of the latest technology available to the heavy oil and oil sands industry. Centers in Calgary and Sherwood Park, Alberta are responsible for heavy oil and oil sands research and have a direct line to Champion Technologies’ global R&D headquarters in Houston.
Our Oil Sands laboratory in our Sherwood Park Technical Center of Excellence is equipped with state-of-the art, world-class equipment. This laboratory is home to a Laboratory Hydrotransport Conditioning System (LHCS) – one of six of its kind in the world. This equipment can be used to simulate the bitumen hydrotransport and extraction and processes, allowing us to test and design effective chemistries to improve bitumen recovery, froth quality and tailings settling.
Champion Technologies is an industrial partner in the NSERC IRC in Oil Sands Engineering and active in a JIP with the chair in Oil Sands Upgrading at the University of Alberta. Our oil sands researchers participate in key industry research consortia and organizations, including Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation Alliance (COSIA), the Canadian Oil Sands Network for Research and Development (CONRAD), the Canadian Heavy Oil Association (CHOA) and the Society for Petroleum Engineers (SPE) Heavy Oil Technical Committee. Champion Technologies is involved in testing with such research organizations as the CANMET Energy Technology Center (CETC), Alberta Innovates – Technology Futures (AI-TF) and the Saskatchewan Research Council (SRC). Findings from this research have been published in peer-reviewed journals.