Study notes tailing-pond technology paths

A study conducted for the Alberta government’s research organization has created a framework for developing technologies related to tailing ponds in oil sands mining operations.

The ponds, which hold fluids and solids left over from the initial processing of oil sands, cover large areas. An important environmental goal has been to accelerate tailing-pond cycling times.

The study, done by the Oil Sands Tailings Consortium (OSTC) for Alberta Innovates—Energy and Environment Solutions (AI-EES), identifies nine “roadmaps” for tailings technology deployment:

• Centrifuging mature fine tailings with conveyors and stacking.

• Composite tailings.

• In-line thickening with thin lift evaporative drying.

• Thickening.

• Water-capped end-pit lake.

• Improvement to water-based extraction.

• Nonaqueous solvent extraction; retort-based extraction; parallel high-low fines suite.

• In-pit tailings stream.

Each roadmap contains a suite of technologies allowing oil sands operators to convert fluid fine tailings inventory into a deposit ready for reclamation.

One of the study’s conclusions is that “there is still no ‘silver bullet’ tailings technology such as a single technology or suite of technologies which will solve all the oil sands tailings challenges with a single effort.”

Study participants

The study involved Alberta Energy, Natural Resources Canada, Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development, and the Alberta Energy Resources Conservation Board.

It included a review of more than 500 tailings technologies and related methods.

Members of the OSTC, formed in December 2010, shared their tailings technologies under development. OSTC members are Suncor Energy, Syncrude Canada Ltd., Shell Canada, Canadian Natural Resources Ltd., Imperial Oil, Total E&P Canada, and Teck Resources.

The consortium is being integrated into Canada’s Oil sands Innovation Alliance, which was formed in March (OGJ Online, Mar. 2, 2012).

Related Articles

BHI: US drilling rig count holds steady at 1,931


The US drilling rig count was unchanged at 1,931 rigs working during the week ended Sept. 19, Baker Hughes Inc. reported.

Cenovus starts production from Phase F at Foster Creek oil sands project

09/19/2014 Cenovus Energy Inc., Calgary, started oil production earlier this month at its recently completed Phase F expansion at its Foster Creek oil sands p...

Inpex to increase recovery, lifespan at Minami-Nagaoka field

09/19/2014 Inpex Corp. plans to upgrade facilities at its Koshijihara plant to enhance natural gas and condensate recovery at Minami-Nagaoka gas field in Japan.

Wild Well completes second capping stack

09/18/2014 Wild Well Control Inc., a subsidiary of Superior Energy Services, has completed a subsea capping stack stationed in Singapore to serve the area dur...

Careers at TOTAL

Careers at TOTAL - Videos

More than 600 job openings are now online, watch videos and learn more!


Click Here to Watch

Other Oil & Gas Industry Jobs

Search More Job Listings >>
Stay Connected