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New facilities to boost oil sands productivity


Edmonton, AB – More than $1 million in funding is being provided to upgrade the Alberta Research Council’s Devon facility to create three new major research areas: a pilot-scale flow loop for simulating wear in oil sands pipelines; a high-productivity welding and automation facility for the metal fabrication sector; and a unique corrosion area capable of testing materials in hazardous and sour environments.

“These new facilities will enable us to work with the oil sands industry to tackle their materials and reliability challenges, which will save money and increase productivity” says John Zhou, manager of ARC’s advanced materials unit.

Equipment reliability is an important issue for the industry. “Syncrude spends in the order of $1 billion each year on maintenance, not including the production that is lost when equipment is out of service,” says Stefano Chiovelli, of Syncrude Canada. “Innovation in materials and reliability can pay double benefits as it can reduce maintenance costs and increase production by keeping equipment working more reliably.”

These new laboratories are also key to ARC’s Materials and Reliability in Oil Sands (MARIOS) program. This industry consortium works to develop knowledge and new technologies that significantly improve operational reliability and productivity of the oil sands industry.

Launched this spring, MARIOS has over 20 industry members, including oil sands producers and suppliers. Technology development is managed by ARC, and supported by Alberta Finance and Enterprise and Advanced Education and Technology.