CALGARY, Aug. 26 /CNW/ - Shell Canada today announced start-up of its
commercial-scale Atmospheric Fines Drying field demonstration for
managing tailings from its oil sands operations.
"Throughout our industry we all recognize the need to improve our
management of the tailings that result from oil sands operations," said
John Abbott, Executive Vice President, for Shell's Heavy Oil business.
"The challenge is to develop and apply technologies that will accelerate
the pace at which tailings can be reclaimed and this demonstration
project is a step forward in meeting this challenge."
"As a relatively new player in the industry we don't have the number or
scale of facilities of some operators but we share the desire to speed
up reclamation and minimize the need to increase the size and number of
tailings ponds. We have been very active in tailings research since we
began our operations and believe Atmospheric Fines Drying technology
could result in a fine tailings deposit which releases water and gains
strength in weeks rather than decades."
Shell is working with a number of others in the industry and with
research institutes to advance this, and other technologies, as fast as
"The issue is not whether we, as an industry, can reclaim tailings,"
continued Abbott, "the issue is whether we can do it better and do it
faster. We believe that working with others is key towards developing
solutions that will allow us to accelerate the pace of reclamation and
meet the expectations of the ERCB's Directive-074. We are actively
working to promote broader industry collaboration in this area and Shell
will openly share the outcome of this demonstration project with
industry players, academia, regulators and others interested in working
on tailings solutions."
Shell received ERCB approval for operation of the Atmospheric Fines
Drying project on August 6, 2010. The demonstration project is located
at Shell's Muskeg River Mine. The facility occupies over 0.3 square
kilometers (75 acres). The demonstration project is expected to deliver
a final deposit of some 250,000 tonnes.
Atmospheric Fines Drying was initially tested at Shell's tailings pilot
plant at the Muskeg River Mine and this commercial-scale demonstration
is the next stage of development for this innovative technology. It is
hoped this project will demonstrate the ability of Atmospheric Fines
Drying to be one of a number of technologies we, as an industry, bring
to bear on the tailings challenge.
Atmospheric Fines Drying involves using a large barge to collect mature
fine tailings (MFT) from the tailings pond and transfer them to the
drying area. The mature fine tailings are then mixed with flocculants -
chemical agents which help bring the fine clay particles in the MFT
together - and placed on a sloped surface to help speed up the release
of water from the clay. The released water runs down the sloped surface
to a collection area and is returned to the external tailings facility
for reuse in the extraction process. What remains are deposits that are
further dried to meet strength and reclamation requirements.
Atmospheric Fines Drying could be applied to tailings from both Shell's
current Muskeg River Mine and future Jackpine Mine operations.
Shell Canada Energy is 60% owner with Chevron Canada Limited (20%) and
Marathon Oil Sands L.P. (20%) of the Athabasca Oil Sands Project (AOSP),
including the Muskeg River Mine and Scotford Upgrader, with a capacity
of 155,000 barrels per day.
For more information on Shell's Tailings Management visit www.shell.ca/tailings
Tailings are a mixture of fine clay, sand, water and residual bitumen
produced through oil sands extraction.
The Shell tailings pond at the Muskeg River Mine is some 14 square
kilometers in area.
When tailings are released to a pond, the heaviest material — mostly
sand — settles to the bottom, while water rises to the top. The middle
layer, often called mature fine tailings (MFT) or fluid fine tailings,
is made up of fine clay particles suspended in water. These particles
remain suspended in water for long periods of time, making it
necessary to expand tailings facilities or find new technology to
speed up this process.
The Energy Resources Conservation Board (ERCB) Directive-074 was
introduced in February 2009. The directive specifies performance
criteria for the reduction of fluid tailings and the formation of
trafficable deposits. Operators may use a suite of technologies to
meet the requirements of this directive.
Reminder: 10 a.m. Media Availability/Technical
Briefing - Media please meet Shell representative in the lobby of Shell
Centre, 400 - 4 Ave SW
Shell has been operating in Canada since 1911 and employs approximately
8,000 people across the country. A leading manufacturer, distributor and
marketer of refined petroleum products, Shell produces natural gas,
natural gas liquids and bitumen, and is Canada's largest producer of
sulphur. Shell is one of Canada's oil sands developers and operates the
Athabasca Oil Sands Projects on behalf of the joint venture partners.
Royal Dutch Shell plc is incorporated in England and Wales, has its
headquarters in The Hague and is listed on the London, Amsterdam, and
New York stock exchanges. Shell companies have operations in more than
100 countries with businesses including oil and gas exploration and
production; production and marketing of Liquefied Natural Gas and Gas to
Liquids; manufacturing, marketing and shipping of oil products and
chemicals and renewable energy. For further information, visit www.shell.com.
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SOURCE Shell Canada Limited
For further information: For further information:
Shell Canada Media Relations