MRO Magazine

Shell Canada employees receive award for innovative oil sands technology

Calgary, AB -- Shell Canada employees Dr. Robert Tipman and Dr. William Power have been recognized for their ground...


December 18, 2003
By MRO Magazine

Calgary, AB — Shell Canada employees Dr. Robert Tipman and Dr. William Power have been recognized for their groundbreaking work on the Athabasca Oil Sands Project’s (AOSP) Muskeg River Mine froth treatment process.

In conjunction with Dr. Yi-cheng Long and Dr. Tadeusz Dabros of Canmet Energy Technology Centre near Edmonton, Drs. Tipman and Power were presented the Syncrude/Alberta Science and Technology (ASTech) award for Innovation in Oil Sands Research on November 7, 2003 at a Gala in Calgary.

“This new technology drives our oil sands business,” says Neil Camarta, senior vice-president, oil sands, Shell Canada Ltd., Calgary, Alta. “Economically, it enables the AOSP to produce such a clean bitumen product that we are able to use hydroconversion technology — a process that actually allows us to make more oil than we put in.”

The award recognizes the non-conventional and innovative Paraffinic Froth Treatment Process in use at the Muskeg River Mine. By changing the solvent used in the froth treatment process to paraffin from a more traditional naphtha, the plant creates a clean, high-quality bitumen that then allows the Scotford Upgrader to use hydroconversion to make synthetic crude oil.


Hydroconversion — adding heat, pressure and hydrogen to bitumen molecules to create synthetic crude oil — means the project makes more than 100 barrels of synthetic crude oil for every 100 barrels of bitumen without producing coke (carbon) as a byproduct. The Athabasca Oil Sands Project is the first oil sands project to test and use this technology in a large-scale operation.

“Seven years of hard work, lab and pilot plant testing, mathematical models, computer simulators and the contributions of hundreds of engineers in the design and construction of the plant has gone into making this froth treatment technology successful,” says Doctors Tipman and Power.

The Athabasca Oil Sands Project, which consists of the Muskeg River Mine north of Fort McMurray and the Scotford Upgrader near Fort Saskatchewan, is a joint venture of Shell Canada Limited (60%), Chevron Canada Limited (20%) and Western Oil Sands L.P.