2002 Winner: Applied Technology and Innovation
For more than 30 years, the scientists, technologists and trades people at the Saskatchewan Research Council’s Pipe Flow Technology Centre have helped develop new technology for Alberta’s energy industry. The Centre, distinguished as the premier facility in the world for its research type, maintains a strong association with the university community in fundamental knowledge of pipeline flow and a strong link with industry for the applied nature of its work.
Oil sands research by the Centre began with designing of tailings pipelines. In recent years, that work has expanded to areas such as oil sand hydro transport, transport of mature fine tailings, paste transport, overburden hydro transport, froth transport and developing of Syncrude’s cycloseparator. The Centre’s heavy oil production research has been devoted to predicting the conditions in which sand can be prevented from accumulating in horizontal wells. This work has major potential to help reduce sand contamination in producing wells and to increase productivity. Because production rates from individual wells are low, trucks are widely used to transport heavy oil.
Research into alternatives to transport heavy oil holds opportunities for Alberta’s heavy oil producers and bodes well for improved safety on the roads. (The Centre has also investigated alternatives in transport of coal.) The Centre has also provided advice on pipeline operation in Western Canada in the area of contamination between patches in pipeline operations. The Saskatchewan Research Council’s Pipe Flow Technology Centre Team has put Alberta and Alberta’s oil sands on the world stage in terms of profitability of operation and quantity of reserves