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Facilities and Controls in a Heated Bitumen Pipeline

[+] Author Affiliations
Carlos Pardo, Ralph Dickau

Enbridge Pipelines Inc., Edmonton, AB, Canada

Paper No. IPC2004-0171, pp. 409-417; 9 pages
  • 2004 International Pipeline Conference
  • 2004 International Pipeline Conference, Volumes 1, 2, and 3
  • Calgary, Alberta, Canada, October 4–8, 2004
  • Conference Sponsors: International Petroleum Technology Institute
  • ISBN: 0-7918-4176-6 | eISBN: 0-7918-3737-8
  • Copyright © 2004 by ASME


World scale deposits of oil sands (bitumen) in Northern Alberta, Canada are being developed to extract hydrocarbons from the sand using surface mining processes and new techniques such us Steam Assisted Gravity Drainage (SAGD) or “SagDee” as it is commonly referred to in the industry. This method employs numerous steam injection wells to heat the bitumen to reduce its viscosity and separate it from the sand particles. The heavy tar-like bitumen must either be upgraded to a light synthetic crude on site or diluted with natural gas condensate or a light oil to be able to pump the blend over long distances through pipelines to refineries for upgrading. The cost of this process and the decreasing availability of diluent led to the development of a pilot project to pump the bitumen in a raw heated state. This paper describes the special facilities and controls that were designed to move high viscosity heated bitumen from this remotely operated pump station. Extended loss of heat to the pump station and pipeline would result in a bitumen viscosity increase from which there is no recovery resulting in a permanent failure of the facility. For this reason, the equipment installed required a high degree of reliability. New receipt and blending facilities were also designed and constructed at the end of the pipeline to dilute the bitumen such that the blend could be pumped down conventional pipeline facilities. The pump station was manufactured as modules in Edmonton, Alberta, and then transported 500 km (315 mi) to site for assembly. Startup procedures were developed to fill the pipeline in controlled stages and to commission the new facilities. Redundant systems were employed to ensure the availability of the pump station at all times.

Copyright © 2004 by ASME



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