How to float 750 tonnes of equipment and get the plant to exceed processing expectations…
Syncrude Canada Ltd. is one of the world’s largest producers of synthetic crude oil from oil sands and the largest single source producer in Canada. It is located just outside Fort McMurray in the Athabasca Oil Sands, and has a nameplate capacity of 350,000 barrels per day (56,000 m3/d) of oil, equivalent to about 13% of Canada’s consumption.
Syncrude Pit mining requires a lot of water. It also creates a lot of water as a byproduct – that is, dirty water (slurry) out of which sand and tailings settle and are extracted.
Water is required to process ore (extract bitumen), and best practices dictate that water be reused as much as possible especially given the large volumes of water needed.
Syncrude required an engineering method that would pump sufficient water (2800 cubic metres of water per hour) from a new, deep, height-changing tailings pond to meet the needs of its nearby processing plant.
Tendered Nov – Dec 2010, completed September 2011
BUSINESS PROBLEM SOLVED
Syncrude required an efficient and effective engineering method that would pump sufficient water (2800 cubic metres of water per hour) from a new, deep, height-changing tailings pond to meet the needs of its nearby processing plant. This solution needed to make efficient use of human resources (diesel pump maintenance, operations/refueling) and ensure no processing plant downtime (due to lack of water).
TECHNICAL PROBLEM SOLVED
To deal with tailings from existing process plants, Syncrude needed a new pond. The plan required a deep pond rather than an ever-widening pond which meant dealing with challenging fluctuating water levels. The client estimated the water level would rise approximately 3 metres per month. If the water level coming into the pond flowed faster than expected, the pumps needed to be moved in groups, quickly, and inexpensively. The design also had to allow for quick and efficient refuelling of each pump.
WHAT WE DID
TEMEC designed 3 Self-Priming Diesel-Engine-Driven Pump Systems. To make sure the pumps could be moved quickly they were mounted on top of portable pump skids effectively creating a floating process plant. Weighing in 100,000 lbs, each skid had 3 pumps able to run at 450 H.P. Integrated together, the three pumps produced a total of 1350 H.P on each skid. Each pump linked to 18” suction lines coming out from pond.
This portability feature of the floating process plant saves on human resource costs to dis-assemble suction and discharge hoses and then re-assemble. Most importantly, Syncrude now does not suffer the costs of pumping down time.
TEMEC also designed a refueling system with control valves so that they only had to be refuelled once per week. To solve the problem of refuelling a barge in the middle of the pond from shore, fuel was pumped from a fuel tank some distance away from the tailings pond. This allowed 24 hour a day run time and was easier for operations people to manage. As part of the project, TEMEC also provided a torsional study report for the proposed pump train prototype.
These heavy duty skids were designed so that they could be pre-fabricated with all required auxiliaries, pipes, fuel lines and control systems. All skids, pumps, piping, control valves, fittings, and fuel lines were shipped to Edmonton and then assembled and tested according to QA/QC standards. The system was then shipped directly to the Syncrude Canada Ltd. Mildred Lake Plant Site where it began pumping on delivery, minimizing costs due to weather, shipment delays, site work and unforeseen risks.
PROJECT LIFECYCLE SERVICES USED
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