PetroChina to unlock Athabasca oil sand reserves
The Canadian specialist TransCanada and China Petroleum National Corporation (CNPC or PetroChina) subsidiary Phoenix Energy Holdings (Phoenix) are preparing the execution of the Grand Rapids Pipeline Project to unlock the underdeveloped oil sands reserves lying in Athabasca northeastern Alberta, Canada.
Through Phoenix, it is the first time in Canada that a Chinese company is taking a role in pipelines construction and operation.
TransCanada and PetroChina started the Grand Rapids Pipeline project feasibility study in summer 2012 and filled the regulatory application to the Energy Resources Conservation Board (ERCB) in spring 2013.
Grand Rapids project to include eight pumping stations
Since the Alberta oil sands cannot be transported in its normal state, it is mixed with diluent.
This diluent is added to the oil at Fort McMurray, then separated from the oil and collected at the arrival in Edmonton.
This process works fine but it gives two constraints:
– The volume of diluent transported in the pipeline reduces in the same quantity the volume of oil to go through, thus it increases the size and costs of the pipeline accordingly.
– The diluent collected in Edmonton must be sent back to Fort McMurray to be mixed again, thus is requires an addition pipeline to carry the diluent back to the pumping stations.
With these constraints, the Grand Rapids Pipeline System will be supported by 500 kilometers pipelines including :
– Blended bitumen and diluent pipeline from north of Fort McMurray down to Edmonton
– Diluent pipeline from Edmonton back to Fort McMurray
– Eight pumping stations
– Four tank farms
– Two loading and unloading terminals
The blended bitumen pipeline running south should have a capacity of 900,000 barrels per day (b/d) while the pipeline streaming north should carry back 330,000 b/d of diluent.
The pumping stations should use 6500HP pumps for the blended bitumen and 3500HP pumps for the diluent.
The tank farms will have storage capacities of:
– 350,000 barrels of blended oil and diluent
– 150,000 barrels of diluent
The loading and unloading terminals will have a capacity of 15,000 b/d.